Since the late 1960s, indigenous issues have come to a head across the world with the rise in aboriginal political organizations and increasing interest in minority rights. Finally, here in British Columbia, native groups have come together to work toward our collective rights.
Topic 1 - Retention of Land and Natural Resources
Issues of land and natural resource rights have been disputed over since the first Europeans came to settle or conquer in the Americas. In this postcolonial world, it is imperative that governments recognize our ancient ties to the land and their historical wrongdoings in our territories. Furthermore, governments recognizing our land rights is only the first step. The WCIP must establish legal security for indigenous territories and help groups receive title deeds. For centuries, our treaties and land rights have not been respected or recognized, and it is time for a change in the international community.
Topic 2 - Retention of Cultural Identity
Cultural rights and retention go hand in hand with land rights, so this too must be addressed. Indigenous cultures tend to be binded to the land. Threatened territories therefore put cultures in significant danger of extinction. Passing down traditions is critical but not the only method for preserving our heritage. Traditional rituals, knowledge, and especially languages will disappear in the coming decades without proper policy making and activism. When land and culture are threatened, so is our identity as indigenous communities. We must stand together so that our livelihoods do not become a thing of the past.