Local Minister Raises Awareness on Indigenous Rights

This Saturday, Rev. Kenneth Stright invites Halifax locals to learn about the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and its significance to those in Nova Scotia.

Stright will be holding a workshop at St. David’s Presbyterian Church.

By Kate Howell

Rev. Kenneth Stright prepares for Saturday's events (Kate Howell photo).

This Saturday, Rev. Kenneth Stright invites Halifax locals  to learn about the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and its significance to those in Nova Scotia.

Stright will be holding a workshop at St. David’s Presbyterian Church.

Presently, 45 people are registered to attend the event, which hopes to address indigenous issues and the impact of the declaration.

This declaration, assembled in 2007, is an international attempt to resolve worldwide indigenous affairs. Though Canada took part in creating this document, it was the last country to sign in December 2010.

Rev. Stright, the event organizer, has been a member of KAIROS since 2004, an organization that unites 11 churches and religious organizations working towards human rights.

Mi’kmaq officials will conduct a welcome speech and the rest of the day will follow a program provided by KAIROS. The theme of the program is called: The Land, Our Life: Indigenous Rights and Our Common Future.

An aboriginal exercise named the ‘blanket ceremony’ will also be performed. When asked to elaborate on this exercise, Stright said it had to be experienced to be understood.

“It invites us to consider the place of aboriginal people,” says Stright.

“We can’t walk in another person’s moccasins, but at least we can try to begin understanding some of the issues that aboriginal people face.”

Stright says Canada has a lot to gain from signing the declaration but the hard part has just begun. The government must now implement what the project requires.

Listen to Rev. Kenneth Stright elaborate on what Canada has to gain from the United Nation’s Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Listen to

The declaration acknowledges the “fundamental importance of the right to self-determination of all peoples, by virtue of which they freely determine their political status.”

Many of the articles in the declaration are already active in the office of Aboriginal Affairs. Tim Soehl, director of negotiations, says that it “doesn’t require a big change.”

However, Stright says that “(Aboriginals) want a new relationship with Canada.”

“This declaration is one step in creating that new future.”

The event will be held from 9.30 to 4.30.