Side event: indigenous connectivity 2005 United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues Thursday, May 19 2005

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2005 United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues

Thursday, May 19 2005


WSIS International Indigenous Steering Committee”

Thursday, May 19 2005

Room 9, 1:15 - 2:45

(approximately 60 – 65 participants)

1:15 - 1:30

Introduction by Co-Chairs

John Sinclair, Sr. ADM, INAC Policy and Strategic Direction

Good afternoon, colleagues, and welcome to the 2005 Side Event on Indigenous Connectivity.

My name is 1John Sinclair, and I am the Senior ADM for Policy and Strategic Direction for Indian and Northern Affairs Canada.
This is the third year in a row that a Side Event on Indigenous Connectivity has been held under the auspices of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.
It was at the Side Event in 2003, organized by the Aboriginal Canada Portal and Connectivity Working Group, that the seeds were sown for the Global Forum of Indigenous Peoples and the Information Society at the first phase of the World Summit on the Information Society.
In 2004, the Aboriginal Canada Portal and Connectivity Working Group hosted a Side Event which reported on the success of the Global Forum, and called upon states and Indigenous peoples to organize regional consultations in the lead up to the second phase of WSIS.
In March of this year, the Aboriginal Canada Portal and Connectivity Working Group joined forces with the United Nations Permanent Forum to host the WSIS Indigenous Planning Conference for Tunisia.
This was the only Indigenous-specific conference in the lead-up to the second phase of WSIS, and was attended by Ambassador Janis Karklins, Chairman of the WSIS PrepCom process, who indicated that the formal report of the conference would be discussed at PrepCom3 in September.
The purpose of the WSIS Indigenous Planning Conference for Tunisia was to explore opportunities for:

  • bridging the digital divide between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples;

  • maximizing the effective use of information and communication technologies by Indigenous peoples for sustainable development, poverty reduction and other goals; and,

  • keeping the issue of Indigenous connectivity front and centre on the international Indigenous agenda.

At the Closing Plenary session of the Indigenous Thematic Planning Conference for Tunisia, the WSIS International Indigenous Steering Committee (IISC) was formed.

Today’s event is being hosted by this Steering Committee.
Before we proceed further, I would like to take this opportunity to introduce our panellists.
Helping me Chair this Side Event is Wilton Littlechild, Member, United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

Joining us from the International Relations Directorate of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada are Allan Torbitt and Dan Hughes.

Also joining us today are the following panelists, all of whom are either members of the International Indigenous Steering Committee or part of our growing community of interest:

  • Roberto Borrero, Chairman, United Confederation of Taino People;

  • Craig Clark, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami;

  • Kenneth Deer, Editor/Publisher, The Eastern Door;

  • Ann-Kristin Hakansson, Indigenous Media Network;

  • Darrel McLeod, Assembly of First Nations;

  • Jay Roberts, Congress of Aboriginal Peoples;

  • Lucky Sherpa, Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities;

  • Marcos Terena

  • Tarcila Rivera Zea, President, Chirapaq, Centro de Culturas Indigenas del Peru; (regrets) and,

  • Gerardo Zepeda-Bermudez, Navajo Nation

In 2002, those involved in the WSIS process were not contemplating Indigenous issues. This was changed thanks to the presence and activity of Kaitlin Peltier, of the Metis National Council, at a WSIS PrepCom.

In the context of our discussions on the Millennium Development Goals, information and communication technologies can play a vital role in creating the conditions for the full participation of Indigenous peoples in economic and social development.
The provision of education and health care, the preservation of language and culture, economic activity and the exchange of information and experiences can all be enhanced through radio, television and the internet.
Largely through the efforts of the Aboriginal Canada Portal and Connectivity Working Group, in partnership with the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, there is now an international footprint for Indigenous connectivity.
The International Indigenous Steering Committee is committed to working together to bringing Indigenous peoples to Tunisia, to ensuring a robust and inclusive agenda, and to ensuring the international dialogue regarding Indigenous connectivity does not end with the second phase of WSIS.
The International Indigenous Steering Committee is also committed to ensuring that implementation of the Indigenous elements of the World Summit on the Information Society Declaration and Plan of Action, as well as the Declaration and Plan of Action flowing from the Global Forum of Indigenous Peoples and the Information Society, is a priority for governments around the world.
Seats on the International Indigenous Steering Committee have been reserved for seven States, one from each of the regions of the world as recognized by the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.
The Government of Canada has committed to represent North America on the International Indigenous Steering Committee, but we need additional partners to make a second Global Forum on Indigenous Peoples and the Information Society a reality.
Wilton Littlechild, Member, United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues
Welcomes all, including Permanent Forum member Hassan Id Balkassm.
As John has indicated, partners are needed to make the second Global Forum of Indigenous Peoples and the Information Society a reality. I have reported on this to the Friends of the Forum, and have appealed for support for Indigenous participation.
We are reaching out to other states to consider sitting on the WSIS International Indigenous Steering Committee and to provide funding to support the second Global Forum. I therefore ask States to consider this plea. In 2003, we benefited from the contributions of the Swiss government in the first Global Forum. Such support will not be available in Tunisia.
Between now and November, the International Indigenous Steering Committee will undertake the following:

  • Canvassing views for the agenda for Tunisia;

  • Identifying funding requirements;

  • Creating delegation selection mechanisms; and,

  • Further recruitment of partners and participants.

After this Side Event, the next pit stop on the “Road to Tunisia” will be PrepCom-3 of the second phase of WSIS, which will take place in Geneva from 19-30 September 2005.

The International Indigenous Steering Committee is presently exploring ways and means of ensuring adequate Indigenous participation at this PrepCom.

Another pit stop will be the next Summit of the Americas, in the context of which connectivity is recognized as a strategic development tool.

The views of Indigenous peoples on this issue will inform the Declaration and Plan of Action emerging from the 4th Summit of the Americas in Argentina in November of this year.
In Canada, strong partnerships between government departments and the National Aboriginal Organizations have fuelled the success of the Aboriginal Canada Portal and Connectivity Working Group.
The same types of partnerships will be required to ensure the success of the second Global Forum on Indigenous Peoples and the Information Society in Tunisia.
The Summary Report flowing from the WSIS Indigenous Planning Conference for Tunisia is available at the entrance to this room, as is the booklet detailing recommendations and discussions flowing from last year’s Side Event. These are very good, detailed reports.
Together, these documents should provide you the necessary background to lobby your respective governments to join with us in ensuring the second Global Forum is as inclusive and influential as possible.
Let’s make no mistake: this will require funding, hard work and commitment.
I will count this Side Event a success if it helps us find a number of like-minded states ready to help the IISC make our vision a reality.
Reports on the conference held May 6-8, 2005 at the University of California Los Angeles, hosted by the International Human Rights Consortium. This conference was well-attended by academics and Indigenous peoples. A number of recommendations flowed from the conference, including one regarding the formation of a council of traditional knowledge keepers.
Also reports on the UNESCO WSIS meeting held Winnipeg from May 13 to 15, 2005. The main objective of the conference was to collect views on the Geneva Plan of Action from a Canadian civil society perspective. The results of the conference will be presented at the Summit in November 2005 and at the 33rd UNESCO General Conference in Paris, France, in October 2005.
Mr. Littlechild concludes his presentation by encouraging continued participation in this process.
John Sinclair – organizers currently lack adequate funding. If a second Global Forum is to take place, other partners will need to step forward.
1:30 - 1:40

Report: WSIS Indigenous Planning Conference for Tunisia

Dan Hughes, Senior Advisor, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada

I am here today in three different capacities:

  • as a Government of Canada official;

  • as a member of the Aboriginal Canada Portal and Connectivity Working Group; and,

  • as a member of the Secretariat for the WSIS International Indigenous Steering Committee.

This afternoon, I will speak to the Executive Summary of Summary Report of the WSIS Indigenous Planning Conference for Tunisia. After the conclusion of this session, I will also undertake to produce and disseminate a report on this Side Event.

The WSIS Indigenous Planning Conference for Tunisia was held in Ottawa, Canada from March 17 to March 18, 2005. This was a truly global conference, with Indigenous participants from each of the world’s regions, as recognized by the UN Permanent Forum.
At this conference, questions were asked regarding what form Indigenous participation at the second phase of WSIS will take, who will champion these issues, and how we all will continue to work together on the Road to Tunisia and beyond.
As a result, the WSIS International Indigenous Steering Committee was formed.
At the Closing Plenary session, the following challenges to bridging the digital divide between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples were highlighted. This is a broad synthesis of the challenges brought forward by Indigenous participants under each of the themes discussed:

  • Funding, both for community Information and Communications Technology (ICT) development and international Indigenous participation in the WSIS process and beyond;

  • Lack of community connectivity infrastructure, as well as other infrastructure needs, such as electricity;

  • Capacity development;

  • Lack of respect for Indigenous cultures and languages in the information age;

  • Racism, discrimination and human rights abuses;

  • Sustainability of ICT infrastructure and programs; and,

  • Lack of consistent national government leadership and support for Indigenous peoples in the information age.

In addition, the following synthesis of ideas for the path forward as articulated by Indigenous participants was also brought forward at the Closing Plenary:

  • Support for the WSIS Declaration and Plan of Action as well as the Declaration and Plan of Action of the Global Forum of Indigenous Peoples and the Information Society in guiding continued discussion and action in the national and international arenas;

  • Indigenous-specific strategies should be formulated in the development of national communications strategies in support of the WSIS Plan of Action;

  • The United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues should be encouraged to continue in its leadership role on the issue of Indigenous connectivity;

  • Increased partnerships among Indigenous peoples, States, UN Agencies, NGOs, the private sector, and the academic community should be pursued;

  • Support for the creation of national and international Indigenous portals;

  • Support for the creation of a transparent, inclusive WSIS International Indigenous Steering Committee. This body should help disseminate best practices in the entire range of ICT development;

  • The WSIS International Indigenous Steering Committee should include a number of sub-groups on topics such as E-Health, E-Government, etc. to assist in identifying a broad range of partnerships and key stakeholders, and in developing issue-specific content for the Road to Tunisia; and,

  • The WSIS International Indigenous Steering Committee should be active at the following international events leading up to the second phase of WSIS, November 14-19, 2005, in Tunisia:

    • the fourth session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, May 16 to 27 May 2005 in New York

    • United Nations Working Group on Indigenous Populations, in Geneva, July 2004

    • WSIS PrepCom3, 19-30 September 2005, Geneva

    • Indigenous Summit of the Americas, Argentina, October 2005

    • Summit of the Americas, Argentina, November 4-5, 2005.

This is an ambitious agenda. As John has indicated, it can only be achieved through the creation of partnerships. Your ideas on how we can successfully pursue and implement such partnerships are most welcome.

Thank you for your time, and I look forward to this afternoon’s dialogue.
1:40 – 1:50

Formation of the WSIS International Indigenous Steering Committee (IISC) and Terms of Reference

Kenneth Deer, Editor/Publisher, The Eastern Door

Reminds participants that in 2000 in this room, there was a meeting of Indigenous media representatives, from which grew the Indigenous Media Network.

I am not a member of the IISC, but had a hand in its creation. While the first Global Forum was a project of the Permanent Forum, there is a need for Indigenous ownership of these issues. Indigenous Peoples need to remain in the forefront of building this agenda, with Indigenous objectives and Indigenous desires.

The Indigenous Planning Conference for Tunisia in Ottawa did not include time for Indigenous caucusing – we therefore created this time after hours. At first, there was not much support within the Indigenous Caucus for a second Global Forum. Our views were swayed by the comments of Ambassador Karklins, who encouraged continued engagement on these issues. The question now is: how do we achieve a second Global Forum?

The creation of the IISC was on the basis of those present at the Indigenous Planning Conference for Tunisia. The Indigenous Caucus used the global regions of the UN Permanent Forum, and asked those present to nominate representatives.
It is important to emphasise that the IISC needs to receive support from other Indigenous Peoples, and together take ownership of the Global Forum. Together, we must push an Indigenous agenda. The opportunity now exists for Indigenous Peoples to take a greater hand in the planning and creation of the second Global Forum of Indigenous Peoples and the Information Society.

1:50 - 2:20

Best Practices, Challenges and the Path Forward (Members, IISC)

Roberto Borrero, Chairman, United Confederation of Taino People


Roberto Borrero, Chairman, United Confederation of Taino People

Begins by indicating he appreciates efforts of the Government of Canada

in this work. Introduces himself as a representative of the United

Confederation of Taino People (La Confederacion Unida del Pueblo Taino).

The ICT revolution has helped the Indigenous Peoples of the Caribbean by

raising their visibility. This is especially important as many school

textbooks do not even acknowledge they continue to exist. ICTs have

helped Caribbean Indigenous Peoples connect communities between various

islands through computers, videos, and periodicals.

References international border issues in Caribbean Indigenous

communities. For example, the Taino people of Puerto Rico cannot

interact freely with the Taino people of Cuba. Agrees the IISC has a

tough job ahead, and has enjoyed the dialogue to date through virtual


Reports that IISC Pacific Region representative, Teanau Tuiono, made a

presentation hosted by UNESCO and The National Library of New Zealand in

relation to Indigenous connectivity and the work of the IISC on May 11,


Stresses the importance of collaboration between the IISC and the

Permanent Forum. Recommends that the IISC liaise more closely with the

United Nations Inter-Agency Support Group.

Also recommends that IISC consider obtaining support from the Global

Compact of the Secretary-General, a voluntary international corporate

citizenship network initiated to support the participation of both the

private sector and other social actors to advance responsible corporate

citizenship and universal social and environmental principles to meet

the challenges of globalization. Information on the Global Compact can

be found at the following URL:
Lucky Sherpa, Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities

On behalf of Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities. I would like to thank the organizer for giving me the floor.  I am an Indigenous Sherpa Women from Nepal. Today I will be sharing the importance of media in the lives of indigenous women.

ICTs are transforming the global economy and creating new networks that stretch over continents and cultures. However, there remain noticeable disparities as to the extent to which access and skills are available. The benefits of knowledge and technology are not available to the large majority of the world’s population. Developing countries, in failing to respond to the transformation that the development of ICTs has produced, will be severely burdened when they participate in the global economy.
During the past decade, advances in information technology have facilitated a global communications network that transcends national boundaries and has an impact on public policy, private attitudes and behaviour, especially of children and young adults. Everywhere the potential exists for the media to make a far greater contribution to the advancement of women. But these advancements have excluded Indigenous women.
In most countries, the media has been captured by the dominant groups. Therefore, there is an invisibility of Indigenous issues in the media. They give very little priority to the issues of Indigenous Peoples.
Not only do these differences affect developing nations and disadvantaged communities, but within societies there are also significant disparities. Women find themselves in most cases, not only excluded from equal social and economic opportunities in general, but also in terms of the benefits offered by ICTs. There are unequal power relations in our societies that contribute to differential access, participation and treatment for men and women vis-à-vis access to, and control of, ICTs. Without women’s participation in decision-making in all spheres of life and at all levels of society, poverty will not be eradicated, nor will fully democratic societies be created. Limited access to ICTs for Indigenous women also has the effect of reducing countries’ competitiveness in the global market.
Most of the Indigenous women, especially in developing countries, are not able to access effectively the expanding electronic information highways and therefore cannot establish networks that will provide them with alternative sources of information. Indigenous women therefore need to be involved in decision-making regarding the development of the new technologies in order to participate fully in their growth and impact.

There are multiple challenges to ICTs becoming a positive force for Indigenous women's empowerment:

  • a large percentage of Indigenous women in developing countries work in the informal sector;

  • lack of effective training for Indigenous women;

  • lack of support for Indigenous women working in the formal sector;

  • lack of infrastructure in developing countries for conducting e-commerce;

  • lack of gendered access to ICTs and ICT training - especially for rural indigenous women;

  • lack of awareness of Indigenous women as to the benefits of ICTs; and,

  • language barriers to the use of ICTs for non-native speakers of English.

Many have observed that ICTs have improved the economic status of Indigenous women in some areas. Advances observed by participants at the Ottawa conference include:

  • an increased ability for women to work from home;

  • improved employment opportunities for women in the ballooning IT sector;

  • increased ability of informal sector women to shift to the formal sector;

  • improved global market access for traditional craftswomen through e-commerce;

  • transformation of traditional gender roles;

  • improved access for women, especially rural women, to distance learning and distance work programs;

  • improved ability for the sharing of experiences among women's organisations concerned with the economic well being of women in the informal sector; and

  • increased ability to avoid gender bias by having a gender-opaque medium.

Recommendations from Lucky Sherpa:
For governments and international organizations:

  • guarantee the freedom of the media and its subsequent protection within the framework of national law and encourage, consistent with freedom of expression, the positive involvement of the media in development and social issues;

  • promote research and implementation of a strategy of information, education and communication aimed at promoting a balanced portrayal of indigenous women and girls and their multiple roles;

  • encourage the media and advertising agencies to develop specific programmes to raise awareness of the Beijing Platform for Action;

  • encourage gender-sensitive training for media professionals, including media owners and managers, to encourage the creation and use of non-stereotyped, balanced and diverse images of Indigenous women in the media; and,

  • encourage the media to refrain from presenting Indigenous women as inferior beings and exploiting them as sexual objects and commodities.

For non-governmental organizations and media professional associations:

  • encourage the establishment of media watch groups that can monitor the media and consult with the media to ensure that Indigenous women's needs and concerns are properly reflected;

  • train Indigenous women to make greater use of information technology for communication and the media, including at the international level;

  • create networks among and develop information programmes for non-governmental organizations of indigenous peoples, Indigenous women's organizations and professional media organizations in order to recognize the specific needs of women in the media, and facilitate the increased participation of Indigenous women in communication, in particular at the international level; and,

  • encourage the media industry and education and media training institutions to develop, in appropriate languages, traditional, Indigenous and other ethnic forms of media, such as story-telling, drama, poetry and song, reflecting their cultures, and utilize these forms of communication to disseminate information on development and social issues.

Gerardo Zepeda-Bermudez, Navajo Nation

Reads the following letter from President Joe Shirley:

I would have liked to be with you personally on the important events taking place at the United Nations headquarters, during the week of May 16-20. While I will be with you in spirit, I have asked Mr. Gerardo Zepeda-Bermudez of OnSat to represent us in such important meetings, where many proposals will emerge, in order to be presented to the World Leaders that will convene at the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), to be held in Tunisia this coming November.
As a member of the WSIS International Indigenous Steering Committee, we have all the intention to be with you in Tunisia. We believe that the world is changing and we need to show that the Millennium Development Goals (MDG), launched in the year 2000, were right in the sense that Information and Communication Technologies (ICT's) are fundamental to achieve a successful self-sustainable development process. We wish to share with the world the Navajo experience that so successfully has been implemented during the past 2 years, following the same guidelines as were stipulated by the MDG's. We also want to learn from the rest of the world and get ever closer to other indigenous and non-indigenous groups, to unite our efforts towards the fight against poverty, using the right technological tools for good governance, better education, improved health and competitive business and commerce practices.
I wish all of you the best outcome out of these important meetings. The Navajo Nation is present with you to continue side-by-side in all these innovative and visionary proposals for our World Leaders. I look forward to being with you in Brazil and Tunisia.
Mr. Zepeda-Bermudez reported that prior to the Navajo connectivity project, only 22% of the populations had access to telephones, 15% to computers, and 10% to the internet. In addition, unemployment rates were more than 50%. Post-project, there are 110 chapters with satellite units, and wireless hospitals, schools, and security. Everyone is in walking distance to a chapter house. Every Navajo computer is capable of video conferencing. Training and capacity development will be the key to our success. If we all join efforts for Brazil, Tunisia and beyond, Indigenous peoples all over the world can become an important economic block. Connectivity will also help Indigenous peoples become self-sufficient.
Ann-Kristin Hakansson, Indigenous Media Network

Wishes to speak to Saami best practices in the area of ICTs. Reindeer herders are using radio communication – very important for communications and emergency response. Saami identity and language has been strengthened through ICTs – including radio and television and more recently e-learning. Stresses the importance of Indigenous-to-Indigenous coordination. The most important challenge is bringing down the cost of the use of satellites, especially for remote communities. On the path forward, we must push governments to implement the Action Plans, and pursue unconventional partnerships in this work.

Jay Roberts, Congress of Aboriginal Peoples

Speaks to more the thirty years of work on Aboriginal issues, including the last four as the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples’ representative on the Aboriginal Canada Portal and Connectivity Working Group. In taking a longer view, the issues become simpler. Indigenous peoples want the opportunity to become first class citizens: this view encompasses all the issues. To do so, we must make our voices heard, learn from other Indigenous peoples, learn the strength of a united people and the dangers of greed, jealousy and self-interest. There is now an opportunity to contribute, grow and prosper with all Indigenous peoples in ratio with how much effort we make.

Craig Clark, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami

Speaks to the historical and geographic context of the Inuit. Speaks to the history of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami. Iniut have always used and adapted new technology, including radio and film (Atanarjuat, The Fast Runner won the Palmes D’Or), GPS, etc. In the mid-90s, the first internet service provider in Nunavut was launched, and in 2004 broadband access came to northern Quebec. Next week will see the launch of Nunavik broadband, thanks to federal government support.

ICTs are not an end in themselves, but a tool to realize dreams, and break down geographic divides. The potential benefits of connectivity are vast, with implications in the following areas: health care, education, economic and social development, and global communications between Indigenous peoples, especially between the circumpolar Inuit and those in cities. Agrees we have some distance to go in overcoming issues such as cost, capacity, and training.
Partnerships are very important to this work, especially in the north. References successful partnerships such as the Aboriginal Canada Portal and Connectivity Working Group, Nunavut broadband, and K-Net.
Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and the Inuit Circumpolar Conference participated in WSIS, and have also participated in three Permanent Forum Side Events, as well as the recent Ottawa conference. These are exciting times.
Indigenous cultures are diverse, but there are commonalities. ICTs will help address these issues. Concludes by encouraging states to support an Indigenous presence in Tunisia.
Darrel McLeod, Assembly of First Nations

Reports he is filling in for Judy Whiteduck, who sends her regrets. The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) represents a broad range of First Nations communities. In relation to ICTs, there are Canadian communities just beginning to access this technology, to very advanced communities. Example – the First Nation Education Consortium in Quebec has linked 12 remote communities in an interactive network, and replaced blackboards with interactive computer screens. A teacher can now give a lesson at the same time to 12 communities, with students being able to interact.

The AFN recognizes the importance of access to ICTs, including the need for training. ICTs are a critical tool for management of lands and resources, including land delineation.
ICTs allow Indigenous peoples to communicate with each around the world, including for entertainment, education and e-government.
The AFN believes that increased investment in ICTs will be a building block toward a knowledge-based economy for First Nations. These developments are especially important for youth – as essential as reading, writing and arithmetic. There are also economic development, education, governance and health care applications.
ICTs can help non-Indigenous awareness and understanding of Indigenous peoples, and can help bridge gaps, and combat racism and discrimination.
It is important that states other than Canada make a substantial contribution to this issue. There is increased potential for private sector participation and support of these initiatives, and the AFN is willing to undertake such work.
Wilton Littlechild – asks Marcos Terena to inform us regarding the June connectivity event in Brazil.
Marcos Terena (Comitê Intertribal)

Introduces Monica, from Ecuador, and other colleagues in the room from Latin America. Always grateful for the opportunity to participate in these meetings. Indigenous participation in the WSIS process, including the Ottawa conference, has been very important. Would like to see an Inter-American conference along these lines prior to Tunisia. References the Indigenous Declaration from the Global Forum.

Reprots there will be a WSIS will be regional preparatory conference June 8 – 10 in Brazil. There is a need for support and advice to ensure Indigenous participation, and preferably a Side Event.
We are organized, we have done this very quickly, we have Indigenous contacts in Brazil. Supports the Navajo coming to Brazil for this. Speaks to need for communication, as well as monitoring of Indigenous rights issues. Need to show that computer technology can be used to the advantage of Indigenous peoples. Need to ensure Indigenous peoples have access to these technologies, and know how to use these technologies. The physical technology, as well as education regarding its use, needs to be shared.
Hopes the UN Permanent Forum will be a part of the process of technology dissemination.
Latin America needs to be able to access events such as this, in Geneva and Tunisia.
Access to technology is a separate issue from knowing how to use the technology. ICTs will help with eradication of hunger and poverty. Indigenous peoples should use this aspect of modernity to our advantage. Need to be able to reconcile traditions with this new technology. Alliances with governments will be necessary to achieve this.
John Sinclair – summarizes the themes of today’s discussion with the following words: leverage, transformation, and solidarity. Asks that panellists share their presentations. Supports approaching the Inter-Agency Support Group on these issues. Paraphrases Lucky Sherpa – Indigenous women can become more powerful agents of change with the use of technology. Concludes by saying transformation is possible.
2:40 – 2:45

Indigenous participation in the WSIS process (including Political Chapeau and Operations Plan)

Allan Torbitt, Senior Policy Advisor, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada

Speaks to the need to ensure Indigenous issues are represented and visible within WSIS. In 2003, Indigenous issues were put on the agenda at virtually the last minute. As a result of such action, there was a large Indigenous footprint in first phases of WSIS, with recognition in the Declaration and numerous references within the Plan of Action.

During Phase 2, the first 2 PrepComs have had a minimal Indigenous presence. Efforts are being made to ensure an Indigenous presence, and the groundwork has commenced on planning for a parallel event.
The big difference in Phase 2 is that the Declaration and Plan of Action already exists. We will therefore be building on Phase 1 commitments in Phase 2. Canada and other states have advocated the inclusion of Indigenous references within WSIS documents. We have not had a great deal of support, but there remains an opportunity to put new commitments in the Plan of Action for Phase 2.
This opportunity is rapidly closing. PrepCom3 in September may be the last chance to get such language on the table. Open to hearing from Indigenous peoples on these issues. It will be important that Indigenous representatives be in Geneva to encourage such work at PrepCom3.
There is some confusion with Tunisia, although things are coming together. 196 states have committed to participation, including 4 states who are not UN members.
Application has been made for an Indigenous parallel event in Tunisia. I learned last week there have been 245 Side Event applications for Tunisia. This is three times more applications than there are available spaces. A selection process is now underway, and decisions should be made by the end of June. Therefore, there is need for advocacy pressure with the WSIS Secretariat and the Government of Tunisia to ensure Indigenous peoples are accorded appropriate space in Tunisia.
The report from the Ottawa conference, which was an official WSIS event, will be presented officially at PrepCom3. This will be the only report specific to the issues of Indigenous peoples and the information age.
2:50 – 3:00

Questions and Answers

Les Malezar (Chairman, Foundation for Aboriginal and Islander Research Action) – is concerned that Pacific representation on the IISC has been ad hoc. Undertakes to try and improve this.
Ken Deer – while he has been active in the WSIS PrepComs, he stresses that Indigenous Media Network representatives are technical people, not politicians. Indigenous political organizations have not been present, and this is a concern. At this point, feels it will be tough to get changes in Political Chapeau, but an Indigenous presence is very important. References the Winnipeg UNESCO session – there will be a need to ensure Indigenous issues are included in that report. References other WSIS Side Events and the need for Indigenous peoples to participate in Side Events dealing with issues such as traditional knowledge, civil society, culture, etc. The Indigenous Media Network had a booth in the first – IMN had a booth in the first “ICT 4 All” exhibition, but there are presently no funds for this phase. Speaks to the idea of a global Indigenous portal.
Mikhail Todyshev (Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North - RAIPON) – wants a greater presence for RAIPON in this process. Do not have access to Russian copies of this information. Agrees there is a large problem funding events such as these, not to mention internal communications. RAIPON is highly involved in ICT activities within Russia, and we should have a presence in both Geneva and Tunisia. Asks for addresses of foundations which could help with these efforts.
Wilton Littlechild – thanks to technicians and interpreters.
John Sinclair – thanks to all participants.
- adjourn, 3:00 p.m.

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