OTTAWA- Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde says it will be important to work with Indigenous Peoples south of the border to garner support as Canada looks for a chapter of NAFTA focused on Aboriginal rights.
Bellegarde tells The Canadian Press that Indigenous Peoples were not included in the NAFTA discussions of the 1990s and he is pleased to see Ottawa working to change that in a renegotiated trade agreement.
He says a modernized NAFTA needs to include a section that recognizes Indigenous rights as an indispensable part of trade agreements.
Last week as negotiations began, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland thanked Bellegarde personally for the suggestion to create a chapter focused on Indigenous rights.
The federal government is looking at how provisions in the agreement can support Indigenous economic development while it is also considering how to make it complaint with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
The International Inter-Tribal Trade and Investment Organization also made a submission to Global Affairs requesting the creation of an Indigenous chapter including for greater protection of cultural property and traditional knowledge.