OTTAWA -- A group of youth from across Nishnawbe Aski Nation territory presented Prime Minister Justin Trudeau a declaration of their rights at an historic meeting on Monday.
The meeting marked the first time a delegation of youth from NAN territory has met with a prime minister.
The delegation of 22 young people told Trudeau they face a number of problems stemming from colonial practices from the Indian Residential School system and identity genocide.
Their declaration demands long-term solutions to living conditions on reserve as it asserts rights to culture and maintaining the relationship with traditional lands.
“Today the voices of Nishnawbe Aski Nation youth were clearly heard and warmly received by the Prime Minister and we were thrilled to present this declaration on behalf of NAN youth,” said Karla Kakagamic, a member of Keewaywin First Nation and the NAN Oshkaatisak (All Young People's) Council.
“We are grateful the Prime Minister made time to speak with us about the adversity faced by young people across NAN territory. I hope NAN youth will continue to have a relationship with the Prime Minister and that this meeting will lead to action to improve the lives and well-being of our youth.”
A roundtable session was also held with four MPs, including Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Carolyn Bennett and Thunder Bay-Superior North MP Patty Hajdu.
“These young people are truly powerful leaders and I commend the work they are doing to make life better in their communities," Hajdu said in a release.
"I am proud to be part of a government that values the contributions of youth and Indigenous people as we build a strong nation to nation relationship.”
The Nishnawbe Aski Nation Youth Declaration of rights appears below:
The Indigenous Youth of Nishnawbe Aski Nation hereby Declare that Indigenous Youth of Canada:
1. Have the right to life.
2. Have the right to sufficient and nourishing food to support their health and development.
3. Have the right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health and access to facilities for the treatment and aftercare of illness and rehabilitation of all aspects health.
4. Have a right to proper housing free of mold with adequate space, and built in accordance with Canadian Building Standards.
5. Have the right to determine our own standard of living adequate for physical,mental, spiritual, moral and social development.
6. Have the right to be protected from all forms of physical, sexual or mental, injury or abuse, bullying, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation,including sexual exploitation.
7. Have the right to fully funded culturally appropriate education, including post-secondary institutions, directed to the development of the youth’s personality, talents and mental and physical abilities to their fullest potential both on and off-reserve.
8. Have the right to access services, programs, assistance for youth with special needs and disabilities which ensure dignity, promote self-reliance and facilitate the youth’s active participation in the community.
9. Have the right to be raised in their own family, community and culture in this generation and for generations to come.
10. Have the right to know and learn about their culture, language, customs and traditions, at school, at home and in the community.
11. Have the right to be respected as Indigenous Peoples free from racism and discrimination.
12. Have the right to access and to nourish their connection to their ancestral land.
13. Have the right to engage in play, recreation, rest and leisure activities appropriate to the age of the youth and to participate freely in cultural life and the arts.
14. Have the right to live healthy lifestyles with access to properly funded facilities and programming.
15. Have the right to live a life free from and protected from gambling, illicit drug and alcohol use.
16. Have the right to express our views freely in all matters affecting the youth.
17. Have the right to equal opportunities for employment, training and other prospects both on and off-reserve.
18. Have the right to enjoy resource revenue sharing in the economic develop First Nations traditional territories, for generations to come.
19. Have the right to have appropriate amounts of funding and resources allow community infrastructure, and to be able to have the ability to stay on traditional land and territory despite the effects climate change is having on the land.