Thompson Rivers University

Working to eliminate racial discrimination

August 18, 2017

TRU Law Assistant Professor Nicole Schabus is visiting the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland this week, in support of presentations to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD).

Schabus works closely with the Interior Alliance, a collective of Indigenous Nations from the Interior of British Columbia, and assisted the group with their submission to the UN committee.

The report is part of a series of presentations by Indigenous Nations and is a follow up to a submission made in 2016.

“I was very honored to be travelling with the delegation of chiefs and leaders for the Interior Alliance and to assist them in delivering a very strong message to the UN,” said Schabus.

Specifically, the submission outlines what the alliance describes as discrimination against Indigenous Peoples of Canada, such as ongoing attempts by the Government of Canada and the province of BC to extinguish indigenous land rights (Aboriginal Title) rather than recognize territorial governance.

“We worked together with other indigenous nations to show that Canada’s legal system is still based on the colonial doctrines of discovery, which the CERD committee has already found to be racist,” Shabus explained.

“We are following up on their previous concluding observations, the first substantive recommendation of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (RCAP) and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) calls to action, which also calls for repealing the colonial doctrines of discovery,” she added.

Through their appearance at the UN, the Interior Alliance hopes to connect their struggle for recognition of indigenous land rights to the international level.

While the presentations themselves were not webcast as per UN protocol for presentations pertaining to human rights violations, the general presentation and questioning of Canada can be seen here:

Consideration of Canada, August 14, 2017, 2566th Meeting, 93rd Session Committee on Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

Consideration of Canada, August 15, 2017, 2567th Meeting, 93rd Session Committee on Elimination of Racial Discrimination. 

Meanwhile, law students benefit as Schabus brings her local and international efforts back to the classroom.

“It all relates to student learning from the very beginning of first year, where we talk about those colonial doctrines in constitutional law, all the way to upper-year courses such as Aboriginal Law (also referred to as Indigenous Peoples and Canadian Law) and International Law,” said Schabus.

“Our work with Interior Alliance also connects to our work on Determining Access and we will hopefully host an international conference next year. We have students continuing to work on research in that regard.”

Related Posts