Readers not impressed with AFN's eagle staff gesture to Canada: Reader Poll
- EFN Staff | September 25, 2017
Debates stirred on social media recently in response to the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Bellegarde, who gifted a traditional Eagle Staff to Canada to mark the 10th anniversary of the adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Eagle Feather News asked readers if Chief Bellegarde’s actions were wrong or right. We provided three options for voters to choose from where 73.65% voted “No, you can’t just hand these out like popcorn,” and 17.57% voted “Yes, as it was a great act of diplomacy to remind Canada of its commitment,” and 8.78% voted “It’s complicated."
Andrew Starblanket said he agrees with the AFN Chief giving the eagle staff but questioned if they are familiar with the traditional gift and how sacred it is.
“An eagle staff is a strong symbol of relationships,” Starblanket said. “I feel that Canada doesn’t understand the importance of Indigenous peoples…the [eagle staff] was prayed for, dreamt of and made a certain way to represent a nation or nations. I don’t see Canada giving many gifts to us.”
On September 13th, AFN Chief presented a traditional Eagle Staff to His Excellency Marc-André Blanchard, Permanent Representative of Canada to the United Nations, to mark the 10th anniversary of the adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
“An Eagle Staff is a high honour and a strong reminder to the Canadian Mission that First Nations expect Canada to show leadership in the full implementation of the UN Declaration both internationally and at home,” said AFN National Chief Bellegarde in a press release. “It is an urgent priority that federal legislation be enacted, with the collaboration of Indigenous peoples, to harmonize the law of Canada with the Declaration and other international human rights standards. As stated by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the UN Declaration is the framework for reconciliation.”
Chief Bellegarde presented the Eagle Staff made by Master Carver James Hart of the Haida Nation and Eagle Staff Maker John Fisher of George Gordon First Nation. Ceremonial leader Marshall Dreaver of the Big River First Nation ensured the proper ceremonial protocols were followed at the ceremony.
His Excellency Marc-André Blanchard said he was honoured to accept the Eagle Staff on behalf of the Permanent Mission of Canada to the United Nations on the 10th Anniversary of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous peoples.
“The Staff will be displayed at Canada's Permanent Mission as a reminder of the importance of our nation-to-nation relationship, and of our commitment to advancing the rights of Indigenous Peoples at the UN and around the world,” he said.
Chief Bellegarde said Canada has fully endorsed the Declaration and it is now urgent and overdue to work together to address widespread discrimination, dispossession of lands, impoverishment and other injustices.
“Positive words are encouraging, but these are not enough for our children and grandchildren to be secure,” Chief Bellegarde said. “We look forward to the day when Canada has legislation that solidifies the endorsement and we expect it soon.”