An ICU team supported the Indigenous Peoples Summit in Ainu Mosir 2008, held in Hokkaido from July 1 to 4. The Summit Steering Committee and participants expressed deep appreciation for the team’s contributions.
The conference marked the first international conference of indigenous peoples held after the UN adopted the Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in September 2007. The Ainu of Japan called upon indigenous peoples around the world to convene prior to the G8 Summit at three cities in Hokkaido: Biratori, Nibutani and Sapporo. Twenty-two ethnic groups from twelve countries discussed topics on environment, regaining rights, education and empowerment, adopting the Nibutani Declaration and Proposal to the Japanese Government.
The Summit Steering Committee had asked ICU faculty to cooperate, leading to a call for student volunteers during the spring term. Twenty-one graduate and undergraduate students signed up to form the ICU Indigenous Peoples Summit Support Team with three faculty members. Students engaged in extensive research about indigenous peoples, preparing to support the summit as translators and interpreters. They spent two months before the summit translating reports from each indigenous group. These translations formed the core of the reference material distributed at the summit.
Students flew to Hokkaido at their own expense to help the Steering Committee organize the summit and welcome participants. Although students’ stay at the summit venue varied from several days to weeks, many expressed their experiences as rewarding. The team plans to get together on campus during the autumn term to share their experiences during the conference.