Internation Indigenous Youth Conference 2005 Rejects Militarization and Demands Self-determination
By Aaron Mercredi
From June 17th - June 21st 2005, over 200 Indigenous youth from across the world gathered on Coast Salish territory at the Vancouver Aboriginal Friendship Centre for the 2nd International Indigenous Youth Conference (IIYC). The theme of the conference, organized by the IIYC secretariat in Vancouver was, “Strengthening Solidarity Among Indigenous Youth in Asserting Indigenous People’s Rights Amidst Globalization.”
Over four days, Indigenous delegates from Guatemala, Colombia, Peru, Chile, Argentina, Mexico, Turtle Island, Samiland, Africa, Philippines, Japan, Nagaland, Chittagong Hill Tracts, Manipur, Australia and New Zealand met and discussed common issues young people face through colonization. A series of panel discussions by delegates were followed by eight workshops over two days that tackled issues Indigenous youth face today. Issues discussed were the development of urbanization and assimilation of Indigenous youth in to cities; the effects of colonization on Indigenous culture and traditional knowledge; the impacts of colonization on education and health; militarization and human rights violations; Indigenous rights amidst resource exploitation; the exploitation and victimization of Indigenous women; governance under a colonial state; and state- imposed defi nitions of identifying Indigenous people. Here, the youth were able to discuss these common problems and analyze ways of overcoming them.
The convergence of Indigenous youth was an important step in the struggle for self-determination and justice. Despite the fact that delegates came from different backgrounds and geographical areas, they were bound by a common oppression: Colonization. This requires a common struggle against colonialism, and being able to build networks and campaigns is essential to build that international unity among Indigenous people. Of the many resolutions that were passed at this year’s conference that act to further the interest of young Indigenous people, the one that covered the sentiment among all in attendance was: “We call for the respect of Indigenous Peoples’ inherent right to self-determination and in this regard we call for an end to the militarization and occupation of our lands.”
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