Implementing the United Nations Declaration on the

 Rights of Indigenous Peoples

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (“the Declaration”) affirms the pre-existing individual and collective rights of Indigenous peoples, including the right to self-determination. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada stated the UN Declaration provides “the necessary principles, norms, and standards for reconciliation to flourish in twenty-first-century Canada.”

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (“the Declaration”) affirms the pre-existing individual and collective rights of Indigenous peoples, including the right to self-determination. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada stated the UN Declaration provides “the necessary principles, norms, and standards for reconciliation to flourish in twenty-first-century Canada.”

UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (“the Declaration”) affirms the pre-existing individual and collective rights of Indigenous peoples, including the right to self-determination. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada stated the UN Declaration provides “the necessary principles, norms, and standards for reconciliation to flourish in twenty-first-century Canada”. It is an expression of the fundamental rights of Indigenous peoples around the world. It sets out the principles of partnership and mutual respect that should guide the relationship between states and Indigenous peoples. It provides ways to measure and assess the way states are respecting and implementing the rights of Indigenous peoples.

Write your Senator today encouraging his/her support of Bill C-262 – an Act to ensure Canadian law is in harmony with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.  Bill C-262 is about working together to build a stronger country for all of us. It would require the federal government to work together with First Nations to take concrete to ensure the laws of Canada are consistent with the Declaration.

Find mail and email addresses for the Senator in your region here:
https://sencanada.ca/en/contact-information

Background

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (the UN Declaration) was adopted by the UN General Assembly on September 13, 2007.

Governments and Indigenous peoples from around the world worked together for decades to achieve this success. First Nations played a key role in this work. Many of our people are acknowledged globally as international human rights experts.

The UN Declaration does not create new rights. It affirms pre-existing or inherent rights of Indigenous peoples. These human rights include the collective right to self-determination. The UN Declaration sets out minimum human rights standards that are necessary ‘for the dignity, survival and well-being of indigenous peoples’.

Canada is now part of eight consensus resolutions of the United Nations affirming the UN Declaration. This includes working with Indigenous peoples to develop national action plans and other measures to support implementation.

In addition, Call to Action 43 of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) calls on federal, provincial, territorial and municipal governments to fully adopt and implement the UN Declaration as the framework for reconciliation.

Call to Action 44 calls on Canada to develop a national action plan and other measures to support the implementation of the UN Declaration. The federal government has expressed its support for all 94 Calls to Action of the TRC.

Every day, First Nations are exercising the right to self-determination. First Nations also frequently reference the UN Declaration in decision-making, policy statements, litigation and in exercising inherent and Treaty rights.

The AFN has passed numerous resolutions calling for the full and meaningful implementation of the UN Declaration including development of a federal legislative framework to support implementation (e.g. AGA Resolution 28/2016United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples 10 Year Anniversary, AGA Resolution 97/2017Support for Bill C-262).

Canadians strongly support the UN Declaration and support legislation to implement the UN Declaration.

  • Nearly 7 in 10 Canadians (68%) are aware of the UN Declaration.
  • Of those who are aware of the UN Declaration, three quarters (76%) support its implementation through legislation (51% support, 21% somewhat support)
  • Note: all public opinion citations in this document are from a Nanos Research project for the AFN (September 2017)

AFN Resource Materials

The following resources have been developed to support First Nations in discussions of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and efforts to ensure its full and meaningful implementation.

Other Useful Resources

Bill C-262

United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act

Bill C-262 was tabled by NDP MP Romeo Saganash (Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou) for first reading on April 21, 2016. The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act would require Canada to work with Indigenous peoples to ensure federal law is consistent with the UN Declaration and to work with Indigenous peoples to develop a National Action Plan.

To much applause, Bill C-262 passed second reading in the House of Commons (with 217 voting in favour and 76 against) on February 7, 2018. The Bill has been referred to the Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs. The AFN will be monitoring the progress of Bill C-262 and pressing for a Bill that is at least as strong as the current one.

“Advancing reconciliation requires bringing Canadian law and policy into line with international human rights law, which has condemned doctrines of superiority, including discovery and terra nullius, as colonial and racist. Yet the racist assumptions and impacts of these doctrines live on in aspects of Canadian law and policy. They are evident in underlying assumptions that assume First Nations are “claimants” in our own lands and that treat First Nations as somehow lacking sovereignty. The assumptions and impacts of these racist doctrines must be uprooted. The path forward will require Canada to acknowledge the truth of our pre-existing and continuing sovereignty as self-determining peoples.”

National Chief Perry Bellegarde

 Update on Work to Support and Advance
UN Declaration Implementation

In 2016, following a request from National Chief Bellegarde to Prime Minister Trudeau, Canada expressed its unqualified support for the UN Declaration at the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

In 2016, MP Romeo Saganash tabled Private Members Bill C-262The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act. This Bill would require Canada to work with Indigenous peoples to ensure federal law is consistent with the UN Declaration and to work with Indigenous peoples to develop a National Action Plan.  First Nations have expressed strong support for Bill C-262.

Under the Canada-AFN MOU on Joint Priorities, signed on June 12, 2017, Canada has committed to “work in partnership on measures to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, including co-development of a national action plan and discussion of proposals for a federal legislative framework on implementation”.

In 2017, AFN brought these implementation issues to the attention of the UN Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD). In August 2017, CERD recommended that Canada adopt a legislative framework, a national action plan and also reform national laws, policies and regulations to bring them into compliance with the UN Declaration.

In September 2017, in an unprecedented address to the United Nations, the Prime Minister acknowledged Canada’s shortcomings in meeting its obligations to Indigenous peoples while re-stating Canada’s commitment to the implementation of the UN Declaration. The Prime Minister acknowledged the Declaration is not merely an aspirational document.  He also said “In the words of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the Declaration provides “’the necessary principles, norms, and standards for reconciliation to flourish in twenty-first-century Canada.’”

In September 2017, National Chief Perry Bellegarde wrote to the Minister of Justice (the Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould) to urge the government to express its support for Bill C-262. In November 2017, National Chief Perry Bellegarde wrote to each Member of Parliament and Senator requesting their support for Bill C-262.

On November 20, 2017, Minister Wilson-Raybould announced government support of Private Members Bill C-262.

The House of Commons held a first hour of debate on Bill C-262 on December 5, 2017.   Speaking for the Government, Yvonne Jones, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs, stated:  “We…are proud to support this private member’s bill and give him (MP Romeo Saganash) our guarantee that we are on this path together, all Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians, and we will do what is long past due in this country, which is to bring forward the right legislation and standards to ensure that self-determination and the inherent rights of Indigenous people are respected in the lands that we all love.”

On the same day, Resolution 97/2017, Support for Bill C-262, An Act to ensure that the laws of Canada are in harmony with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, was passed by Chiefs-in-Assembly affirming First Nations’ support for Bill C-262.

In January 2018, National Chief Bellegarde wrote to Prime Minister Trudeau to acknowledge the government’s expressed support for Bill C-262 and the need for engagement with First Nations respecting Canada’s stated interest in additional initiatives.

 Next Steps

  • The AFN will continue to call for support from all Members of Parliament and Senators, and inform First Nations of developments.

  • The AFN has developed information materials on the UN Declaration, and is in the process of developing more to support First Nations engagement and First Nations efforts to advance implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

  • The next meeting under MOU on Joint Priorities (March 26, 2018) will provide an opportunity for Canada and the AFN to exchange views about progress in advancing Canada’s implementation commitments.

“…. a crucial step towards reconciliation was taken as Bill C-262 passed second reading in Canada’s Parliament. Reconciliation is a non-partisan issue. The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is a central part of reconciliation. First Nations and Canadians support legislation to implement the UN Declaration. All parliamentarians should be part of this act of reconciliation as a matter of human rights. Bill C-262 would require the federal government to take concrete action with First Nations to co-develop a national action plan and work together to ensure the laws of Canada are consistent with the Declaration. Bill C-262 is about working together to build a stronger country for all of us. We look forward to ongoing dialogue with First Nations and Canadians as we work towards the adoption of this Bill.”

National Chief Perry Bellegarde

“The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is the framework for reconciliation at all levels and across all sectors of Canadian society.” (Principles of Reconciliation, Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada)

Statements of Support for Bill C-262

Contact Policy Staff

Amber Potts
Director


Ken Medd
Policy Analyst


Daniel Wilson
Special Advisor


Chris Barney
Administrative Assistant


Natasha Beedie
Policy Analyst


Lisa Smith
Sr. Policy Analyst


David Kohoko
Special Advisor


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