The Grand Council of the Crees and other Native groups are pushing to ratify the United Nations declaration on Indigenous Peoples internationally by the end of the year.

Grand Council Executive Director Bill Namagoose said that the full support of UN members, including Canada, would bolster the declaration. Anything less would make it a “much weaker document,” he said.

In late June, the United Nations Human Rights Council voted on the 46-article declaration. The declaration was approved, but Canada and Russia voted against the deal. Twelve other countries abstained from voting.

The declaration will now go before the United Nations General Assembly.

Since the election of Stephen Harper’s Conservative government last January, Canada’s position has changed in favour of toning down language it feels gives Aboriginals too much power. A clause granting “affirmed rights to sovereignty” is one of the main items the Harper government opposes.

The Grand Council of the Crees is currently circulating a petition for support of the declaration and has received over 3,000 signatures thus far.