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Fr Daniel LeBlanc, OMI, Moderates NGO Side Event at the 17th UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues May 3rd, 2018

The United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) held it’s seventeenth session from April 16 – 27. The theme for the 2018 forum was; “Indigenous Peoples’ Collective Rights to Lands, Territories and Resources.” According to the UNPFII, indigenous peoples are inheritors and practitioners of unique cultures and ways of relating to people and the environment. Indigenous Peoples have retained social, cultural, economic and political characteristics that are distinct from those of the dominant societies in which they live. Several indigenous communities from around the globe were represented at the UNPFII. Many of them had opportunities to present statements on issues of concern to their different communities.

The President of the UN General Assembly, Mr. Miroslav Lajčák, in his opening remarks at the forum, painted the grim picture of the situation of the over 300 million Indigenous Peoples around the world. He noted that while Indigenous Peoples make up about 5 percent of the world’s population, they comprise 15 percent of the world’s poorest people. A situation he described as ‘shocking.’ Mr. Lajčák also highlighted some of the challenges faced by Indigenous Peoples as violations of their human rights, marginalization, and violence they face for asserting their rights. Focusing on the theme of indigenous land, territories and resources, Mr. Lajčák pointed out that, “Indigenous Peoples are being dispossessed of the lands their ancestors called home,” often by big time and multi-national farmers and mining corporations.

In a recent report by Conselho Indigenista Missionaria (“Indigenous Missionary Council” – a subsidiary of the National Conference of Bishops of Brazil), some of the challenges faced by a number of indigenous communities in Brazil (as well as indigenous communities around the world) include; high rate of of suicide, lack of health care, high child mortality, alcohol and drug abuse, lack of indigenous education and lack of general support from the State.

NGO Event at United Nations 17th Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues

As part of the Forum’s many side events, on April 18 Fr Daniel LeBlanc, OMI, moderated a session on “Spiritual Connection and Right Stewardship of Land, Territory, and Resources, including Water for Indigenous Peoples,” with panelists that included:

  • Atilano Alberto Ceballos Loeza – Leader in sustainable agricultural practices and defender of land and territory in Yucatan
  • Elvia de Jesús Arévalo Ordóñez – Member of the Council of Government of the Community CASCOMI (Amazon Community of Social Action Cordillera del Cóndor Mirador), integrated by native families and settlers of the parish Tundayme-Ecuador
  • Augostina Mayán Apikai – Awajún indigenous woman leader born in Cordoncanqui is the president of the Development Organization of Border Communities of Cenepa – ODECOFROC. http://odecofroc-es.blogspot.com/p/nuestra-organizacion.html
  • Leila Rocha – Guarani Ñandeva, member of the board of Aty Guasu Guarani and Kaiowá, Mato Grosso do Sul
  • Sachem HawkStorm – Schaghticoke First Nations

The event was held at the Episcopal Church Center in New York City and organized by Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate; UN Mining Working Group; NGO Committee on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; Congregation of the Mission; VIVAT International; Caritas International; Dominican Leadership Conference; Franciscans International; Red Eclesial Pan Amazónica (REPAM); Indigenous Missionary Council (CIMI); Sunray Meditation Society

Learn more:

UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues: https://bit.ly/2pvCccv

UN News on Indigenous Peoples’ land rights: https://bit.ly/2H4EU1M

Conselho Indigenista Missionaria report on violence against indigenous peoples in brazil in English, Espanol and Portugese: https://bit.ly/2F1w133

 

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