Shaheed to Address Forum on Freedom of Belief for Indigenous Peoples on October 26

Freedom of Religion or Belief for Indigenous Peoples: The 2022 UN Report

Wednesday, October 26, 2022 | 5 – 7 p.m.
James Memorial Chapel, Union Theological Seminary, 90 Claremont Avenue, New York City

On Wednesday, October 26, at 5 p.m. (New York time), Dr. Ahmed Shaheed, the former United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, will deliver the keynote address at “Freedom of Religion or Belief for Indigenous Peoples: The 2022 UN Report.” Organized by the Center for Earth Ethics at Union Theological Seminary, this global forum will discuss the report that will be presented to the 77th session of the UN General Assembly in New York next week.

The forum will be held in person at James Memorial Chapel at Union Theological Seminary at 121st and Broadway in New York, on Wednesday, October 26, from 5 – 7 p.m. 

Dr. Shaheed, who is a professor at University of Essex School of Law in the U.K., wrote the report to initiate “a critical conversation within the UN system and beyond on obstacles and opportunities facing Indigenous peoples’ freedom of religion or belief.” In the report, he “explores ‘Indigenous spirituality’ as a typically nature-based ‘way of life’” as well as “documents experiences of affected rights-holders—from forced displacement to environmental destruction—and proposes recommendations to protect and promote freedom of religion or belief of Indigenous peoples.”

From left: Ahmed Shaheed, Nazila Ghanea & Francisco Calí Tzay

Dr. Nazila Ghanea, the new Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, Francisco Calí Tzay, the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and respondents from North American Indigenous communities will reflect on the report, offer insights and discuss how protecting Indigenous rights, including the right to freedom of religion or belief, relates to global environmental issues.

Tadodaho Sid Hill of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy will offer a welcome.

From upper left: Bernadette DemientieffFred Davie, Karenna Gore, Tadodaho Sid Hill, Betty Lyons, Mona Polacca

Additional confirmed speakers for the forum include: 

  • Bernadette Demientieff, Executive Director of the Gwich’in Steering Committee; Gwichyaa Zhee Gwich’in
  • Fred Davie, Senior Strategic Advisor to the President at Union Theological Seminary; Commissioner of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom
  • Karenna Gore, Founder and Executive Director of the Center for Earth Ethics
  • Betty Lyons, President and Executive Director of the American Indian Law Alliance; Onondaga Nation, Haudenosaunee Confederacy
  • Mona Polacca, Founding Member of the International Council of 13 Indigenous Grandmothers; Founder and President/CEO of the Turtle Island Project; Havasupai, Hopi and Tewa Peoples
“Freedom of Religion or Belief for Indigenous Peoples: The 2022 UN Report” is part of CEE’s ongoing efforts to engage and advocate for Indigenous wisdom, values and rights. CEE gratefully acknowledges support from the Tribal Link Foundation and the American Indian Law Alliance in organizing this forum.

The forum is free and open to the public, but registration is requested.