INTERNATIONAL COURT ADMITS LIL’WAT PETITION AGAINST BC/CANADA CHILD SEIZURE

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), the regional human rights organ of the
Organization of American States, today advised IHRAAM that its Petition 879-07 against Canada on
behalf of Lil’wat mother, Loni Edmonds, has been admitted.  The Petition contests the seizure of Ms.
Edmonds’ six children by the BC Ministry of Child and Family Development (MCFD), and their placement
in foster care.

The Petition was originally submitted in 2007 by international legal specialist Dr. Y. N. Kly, Chair of
IHRAAM, an international NGO in consultative status with the United Nations, at the instigation of Lil’wat
elder, James Louie.  The Petition addresses not only individual human rights issues germane to the
human rights of mother, Loni Edmonds, and her children, but also links them to issues raised by
Canada/BC’s imposition of jurisdiction over Lil’wat families when the Lil’wat have no treaty with Canada.

IACHR admission of the case is seen as a great victory.  The case not only challenges the right of the
MCFD to seize indigenous children, it brings to international scrutiny the lamentable plight of native
children the MCFD has placed in foster care. Further, the Commission’s Report on Admissibility No.89/13
made explicit note of contextual issues raised by the Petition related to the case, such as Canada’s
historic policies of forced assimilation and its ongoing efforts toward “transforming them from the Lil’wat
Nation to a Municipality within the Province of British Columbia without their consent.”

The IACHR first responded to the Petition in 2011, passing the pertinent parts of the Petition to Canada,
which responded extensively, including 10 documentary attachments. The Commission then passed this
to IHRAAM for its Observations, which were then returned to Canada.  IACHR facilitation of this dialogue
carried on until September, 2012, by which time Canada had responded four times.  Canada then
ceased to proceed further with the exchange, despite IACHR request.

The Report on Admissibility submitted to IHRAAM dated January 23, 2014 sets forth the Commission’s
view that domestic remedy has been exhausted—a primary requirement for access to international
tribunals—despite Canada’s arguments to the contrary.

Should the Commission make a positive ruling on the substantive aspects of what is now IACHR Case
12.929, the consequences could be highly significant for all indigenous nations within territory that
Canada regards as a part of Canadian territory
.  The admission alone draws attention to an avenue of
international legal recourse long sought by indigenous peoples seeking redress for their grievances
against states that cannot be resolved in domestic courts.

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