For Immediate Release:

June 23rd, 2006

World Urban Forum, 2006

Coast Salish Territory, Vancouver B.C.

UN Plaza, UN Habitat


Ayateway Declaration

Indigenous Peoples Youth Caucus, Coast Salish Territory, June 16-23

World Urban Forum III

Vancouver, British Columbia


We, the Indigenous Youth representatives met on the traditional unceded territory of the Coast Salish Peoples. We came to this land from our respective Nations, villages, territories and communities to discuss pressing matters regarding global human settlement issues, discourse, and practice.

We have adopted the Coast Salish word “Ayateway,” meaning “our unity of being,” as a gift by a Hereditary Chief of our host Indigenous Nation.  This blessing breathes life into our Declaration. 

The “Ayateway Declaration” is a living document. These words are not set in stone, they have been planted and fed by many minds and will continue to grow as we share them with our communities. We hope that this declaration will allow for the gathering of thoughts, beliefs and concerns of the Indigenous youth globally.

The process of living, and the intrinsic relationship that we have with the land is what creates our culture. Our definitions of settlement are as diverse as our languages, our cultures and our nations. Whereas semi-sedentary or sedentary cultures have spatial notions of the sustainability and capacity of the Earth, nomadic cultures tend towards the notion of settlement in relation to time and seasons. These notions are deeply varied and embedded in our languages, sense of identity and spirituality.

We as Indigenous Peoples assert our inherent rights to self-determination. Our control over our lands, our resources, our spirituality and physical health, our histories, our identity, our languages and our governance structures is crucial for our survival. The rapid expansion of urbanization has perpetually undermined our Indigenous communities that began with the historical process of colonization. Attempts to sever the relationship we have with our Mother Earth have not been effective.  We also recognize and respect the importance of diversity amongst our Indigenous Nations, each of which is responsible for establishing its own jurisdiction of self-determination.

Our Indigenous knowledge has developed through our inseparable relationship with our Mother Earth. Our traditional and ancestral knowledge systems enable holistic approaches to sustainable development. Indigenous knowledge must always be applied to address the alarming growth of poverty, homelessness, lack of adequate and affordable housing, inadequate sanitation and water needs, and all forms of violence against Indigenous Peoples, particularly within the realm of urbanization.

We acknowledge the existing human settlement work initiated by UN Habitat that explores the connection between human rights, housing and Indigenous Peoples. We assert the right to adequate housing for indigenous peoples with full sensitivity to our culture, traditions and needs. 

The true success of the World Urban Forum III and all other forums must respect and include Indigenous knowledge and Indigenous best practices, throughout its conception, development and implementation. However, as in many United Nations bodies and processes, we find ourselves underrepresented at the World Urban Forum III, and have fought to have our voices heard.

We re-affirm the UN Draft Declaration on the Rights of the Worlds Indigenous Peoples, the Declaration from the Youth Caucus of the Regional World Conference Against Racism, Xenophobia, Intolerance and Discrimination, the Kimberly Declaration, the I and II International Indigenous Youth Conference Declarations and Resolutions, the Indigenous Peoples’ Plan of Implementation on Sustainable Development, the Indigenous Peoples’ Declaration on Extractive Industries, and the Indigenous Peoples’ Kyoto Water Declaration


Article 1– Recognition of Indigenous Self-Determination

We strongly urge Nation States to recognize Indigenous Peoples’ rights to self-determination. We call on Nation States and multi-national corporations to initiate a process of restitution of Indigenous Peoples’ ancestral territories, in order to establish specific legal frameworks in which Indigenous peoples can resume the original right, and responsibility of self-determination.

Article 2 – Youth

Recognizing that youth represent a majority of our Indigenous community globally, we call on Nation states, and Indigenous peoples to fully support the inclusion of youth within all levels of decision-making, and the need for mentorship opportunities to enhance leadership development.

Article 3– Development Aggression & Urbanization

We implore Nation States and multi-national corporations to cease and desist aggressive development on Indigenous Peoples’ traditional territories. Large-scale urban development aggression is an agent of the current corporate agenda, which results in unsustainable urban settlements. These consequences severely impact our traditional way of life. Culturally and spiritually significant locations are all too often destroyed in the path of urban development.

Article 4– Free, Prior and Informed Consent

We assert the free, prior and informed consent of all Nations of Indigenous Peoples should be obtained before any form of development is introduced into our communities. The procedure of free and informed consent must be guided by the respect of our own peaceful traditional means of decision-making. 

Article 5– Housing, Poverty and Homelessness

Housing is a basic human right and must be ensured and afforded to all Indigenous peoples. Poverty and homelessness are direct results of our displacement from our traditional territories. We call on UN Habitat and Nation States to ensure the basic necessities to urban Indigenous Peoples in difficulty.

Article 6– Gender Oppression

Indigenous peoples have the right to be safe and free from violence.  When a person is targeted for violence because of their gender, sexual preference or because of their Indigenous identity, their fundamental rights have been abused.  We demand national and international media campaigns to encourage the prevention and intervention of violence against Indigenous peoples. We call on governments to validate women’s initiatives through the commitment of long term funding, resources and ultimately self-sustaining programs, in order to stop the cycle of abuse. We call for the creation and implementation of culturally relevant programming for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Two Spirited peoples.  We as youth need to be recognized as an essential part of the solution to ending the violence against Indigenous Peoples.

Article 7– Sexual Exploitation /Trafficking

Indigenous youth are being coerced into the commercial sex industry at an alarming rate. We declare that sexual violence against our Indigenous youth shall not be met with impunity by Nation States. We demand increased sexual education and awareness campaigns that are both age and culturally specific and support be provide for experiential knowledge, peer based education, and mentorship around these issues.

Displacement and poverty within our communities and the lack of alternative livelihoods for our women and children creates a vulnerability to human trafficking. We ask that our Nation States create an action plan that commits to the aid and safe recovery of our Indigenous peoples to their homeland without criminalization and further exploitation. International human trafficking rings must be investigated and perpetrators brought to justice. Eliminating sexual exploitation and human trafficking must be a joint effort between individuals, communities, and governments.

Article 8– Education

We condemn the privatization of education, and the unequal access for Indigenous Peoples that result from the commodification of education.  We demand immediate recognition and implementation of culturally appropriate education policies. Polices must promote the preservation and revitalization of Indigenous languages, Indigenous history, and Indigenous traditions. We demand increased wages for Indigenous teachers, protection from repression and physical harm for teachers unions, and increased overall access to education and literacy for Indigenous Peoples. We implore the UN for immediate action in Oaxaca, Mexico, where freethinking teachers are presently being murdered. 

Article 9– Participatory democracy

We affirm Indigenous Peoples’ right to organize at the local level, and to bring grassroots ideas into international forums, so as to increase participatory democracy. Popular education is an essential tool for the development of critical and collective consciousness.

Article 10- Militarization, Armed Conflict and Urban Development

We demand an immediate end to the militarization of Indigenous communities. Indigenous Peoples are met with militarization for resisting destructive industries, programs and projects that threaten the survival of our way of life. The militarization of Indigenous Peoples' communities, with the consequent violations, arbitrary executions and arrests, the criminalization of Indigenous Peoples, and the detention of Indigenous activists and leaders, has increased with urbanization. Indigenous Youths are primarily targeted. Indigenous individuals or communities, whom have been physically and spiritually targeted through arbitrary executions, arrests, detentions and rapes should have the right to legitimate investigations and appropriate measures taken against the perpetrators.

Transient Peoples & Forced Migration: Indigenous peoples who have been impacted by unjust displacement due to militarization, infrastructure projects and development schemes should be repatriated to their lands or justly compensated.

Article 11– Environment: Our relationship to the land has always been of the greatest importance to our existence.

The land is a physical representation of our spirituality. The natural resources must be protected. Our very essence and worldview is threatened by multi-national industries such as mining, oil, gas, lumber, and water. As Indigenous Peoples we have the distinct responsibilities to protect our territories.

Article 12– Bio-colonialism: Indigenous Peoples and the environment are vulnerable to the exploitation of bio-

colonialism, which includes the pirating of plant DNA and our genetic information. We condemn free trade agreements that allow for the patenting of Indigenous seeds, plants, fish and other species and organisms.  We call for an immediate moratorium on the uncontrolled development, cultivation and use of genetically modified organisms.

Article 13– Adopting the UN Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: We call upon

Nation States for immediate adoption of the entirety of the UN Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the UN Sub-Commission on the Protection and Promotion on Human Rights.

Article 14– World Forum on Indigenous Urban Issues: We call upon UN-HABITAT and the United Nations

Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues to host a World Forum on Indigenous Urban Issues.  This forum will holistically – respective of our social, environmental, and economic perspectives – address urbanization issues with specificity to the impacts on Indigenous populations internationally.

Article 15– Indigenous Peoples and the UN-HABITAT: We call on UN-HABITAT and Nation States to 

eliminate the systemic barriers such as the lack of funding, the lack of recognition of our Indigenous nationhood, and the lack of Indigenous consultation that limit Indigenous Peoples’ true participation.  We implore UN-HABITAT and its Partners, to provide sufficient resources to Indigenous Peoples’ at future forums and meetings. We the Indigenous Peoples demand a funded delegation to attend the World Urban Forum IV so as to continue the work we have begun at the World Urban Forum III. We the Indigenous Peoples demand involvement in all decision-making processes within the United Nations and UN Habitat.