This Fight Continues!

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission has called Canada to adopt and implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as “the framework for reconciliation" (Call to Action #43). For the last 4 years, Canadians from coast to coast have championed Bill C-262, a transformative piece of legislation that will ensure that Canada’s laws are in harmony with the Declaration.

Through incredible grassroots advocacy and persuasion, 262 was passed by the House of Commons and made it all the way to 3rd reading in the Senate. However, on June 21st, 2019 (National Indigenous Peoples Day), 262 "died on the order paper" because of the obstruction of a handful of Conservative Senators.

Yet there is good news!

  • The conversation around the UN Declaration has dramatically shifted in Canada—for the better. More and more people recognize the importance of respecting these "minimum standards for the survival, dignity, and well-being the Indigenous peoples of the world."
  • On June 19, 2019—The government leader in the Senate, Peter Harder, announced that the Liberals will support government legislation to implement the UN Declaration. [Now all major political parties, except the Conservatives, support a legislative framework for the Declaration!]
  • On December 5, 2019—The Governor General announced that the Government of Canada will "take action to co-develop and introduce legislation to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in the first year of the new mandate." This would not have happened without the powerful 262 movement that we created! 

 

This fight continues! 

For over 35 years, Indigenous Peoples have been pushing for the Declaration and the recognition of their inherent rights. The time has come for us to make this a reality here in Canada. As we head into 2020, we call upon the Canadian government to act with great intentionality and urgency to put forward legislation that will reconcile its laws so that they are in line with the just and peaceable standards of the Declaration.

Will you add your voice to our movement? Can you join us as we move forward on a path, not just towards reconciliation, but one of equality and justice? Will you take action to #passbillc262?

 

TAKE ACTION!

Here are 2 important actions you can take in 4 minutes to support Bill C-262! We'll update these after the October 21st election, so stay tuned.

  • Ask your current Member of Parliament & the candidates in your riding—"Will you commit to the implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in Canada by supporting a government bill that meets or exceeds the provisions of Bill C-262?" 

 

  • Take a photo of yourself (or with your community group) showing your support of Bill C262, and post to social media. “I support Bill C-262!” "We support Indigenous rights!" Use the hashtags #passBillC262 #UNDRIP #SenCA. If it's helpful, you can download a #PassBillC262 poster here.

 

 

New Mini-Doc!

We've created a new 12-minute mini-documentary that shares the struggle to adopt and implement the Declaration in Canada.

Check it out here—This Fight Continues! 262 & the Declaration

  • Featured petition

    Sign the petition!

    5,373 signatures

    In 1982, the United Nations began work on a document to protect the human rights of Indigenous Peoples globally. It took them 25 years to finish that work.

    The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was eventually adopted by the UN in 2007 – with Canada voting against it. It was finally endorsed by Canada in 2010.

    Canada has stated that they would put into place the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which call for the Declaration to be adopted and implemented.

    Canada now has the chance to become a world leader upholding Indigenous rights by fully standing behind this seminal document.

    This Declaration would go a long way to establishing a new relationship between Canada and Indigenous Peoples, and go a long way to improving the lives of Indigenous Peoples.

    We call upon the Canadian government to fully adopt and implement the Declaration, and stand up for the rights of Indigenous Peoples. We call on Canada to adopt Bill C-262 to this effect.

    Will you sign?

  • Latest from the blog

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    UNDRIP promised in Throne Speech

    Within the first year of its mandate, Justin Trudeau’s minority Liberal government will introduce a law to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the government said in [December 5th's] throne speech.

    See below for the portions of the Speech from the Throne that speak to reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.

    Speech from the Throne

    Her Excellency the Governor General was then pleased to open the First Session of the Forty-third Parliament with the following speech.

    The Right Honourable Julie Payette: 

    Honourable Senators,

    Members of the House of Commons,

    Ladies and gentlemen,

    It is my pleasure to address this first session of Canada’s 43rd Parliament. I would like to welcome the 98 new members of this assembly and to welcome back returning members.

    Your predecessors first sat in Parliament in November 1867. Canada was barely five months old. On the scale of world history, we are still very young. Yet much has happened in the world since then. We have matured, and we are here — strong and free. There has been no civil war, no foreign armies marching on our soil. There have been agreements and differences along the way, and lots of arguments, yes, most of them delivered with much eloquence in this very chamber.

    There are many reasons for our stability. First, the millions of us, whether we are from here or chose to come and live here, we share the same desire. We wish to live freely and in peace and harmony. This quest is a bedrock of our nation and informs almost everything we do. We may differ in many ways, yet we move forward as if we were one people, looking for equal opportunities and common ground. This is not by accident, but by choice. It is who we are.

    And remember, as well, that our fortunes have relied often on the knowledge and the strategies of the Indigenous Peoples — what I call Indigenous genius, that allowed this nation to thrive. Their deep understanding of our natural world, their intense sense of community, should continue to affect what we do here.

    For the good of our communities and the future of our children.

    Kkidji mkwènimaganiwiwatch missiwè anichinapèk achitch nigan abinoudjichak kè pimadiziwatch.

    Reconciliation must continue....

    WALKING THE ROAD OF RECONCILIATION

    Every single person in Canada deserves a real and fair chance at success — and that must include Indigenous people.

    In 2015, the Government promised a new relationship with Indigenous Peoples — one that would help deliver a better quality of life for their families and communities.

    Real progress has been made over the past four years, including the elimination of 87 long-term drinking water advisories, equity in funding for First Nations K-12 education, the passage of historic legislation to protect Indigenous languages and affirm Indigenous jurisdiction over child and family services, and the completion of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

    But we know there is still much work to do.

    Reconciliation with Indigenous people remains a core priority for this Government, and it will continue to move forward as a partner on the journey of reconciliation. Indeed, when Indigenous people experience better outcomes, all Canadians benefit.

    Among other things, the Government will:

    take action to co-develop and introduce legislation to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in the first year of the new mandate;

    continue the work of eliminating all long-term drinking water advisories on reserve by 2021, and ensure safe drinking water in First Nations communities;

    co-develop new legislation to ensure that Indigenous people have access to high-quality, culturally relevant health care and mental health services;

    continue work to implement the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action, and the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls’ Calls for Justice, in partnership with First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples;

    work with Indigenous communities to close the infrastructure gap by 2030;

    continue to move forward together to ensure that Indigenous Peoples are in control of their own destiny and making decisions about their communities;

    take new steps to ensure the Government is living up to the spirit and intent of treaties, agreements, and other constructive arrangements made with Indigenous Peoples;

    ensure that Indigenous people who were harmed under the discriminatory child welfare system are compensated in a way that is both fair and timely; and

    continue to invest in Indigenous priorities, in collaboration with Indigenous partners.

    The path to reconciliation is long. But in its actions and interactions the Government will continue to walk it with First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples. 

     

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    The Road to Reconciliation Starts with the UN Declaration

    When the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada concluded its work almost four years ago, it provided a road map for Canadians to follow. That road map, the 94 Calls to Action, aims to “revitalize the relationship between Aboriginal Peoples and Canadian society” after more than 100 years of the traumatic and systemic removal of Indigenous children from their families.

    Call No. 43 underpinned all others, according to the commission. The commission urged federal, provincial and territorial governments to fully implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. They called it “the framework” for all reconciliation measures “at all levels and across all sectors of society.”

    It’s extremely rare for international human rights standards to even be mentioned in the Canadian policy debate. However, when Canada voted against the declaration in 2007 at the United Nations, it was the first time that Canada had ever stood in opposition to an international human rights standard.

    It remains today the only international human rights standard in Canada up for debate. [To continue reading this article by Sheryl Lightfoot, please click here—The Road to Reconciliation]

     

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    Next Session of Parliament Must Prioritize Protection & Fulfillment of the Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples

    The Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, and numerous reports by international human rights bodies have all documented the profound and tragic harms that have resulted from Canada’s colonial laws and policies. Ongoing adverse impacts include denial of Indigenous systems of governance, jurisdiction and laws; dispossession of lands, territories and resources; the ongoing tragedy of Indigenous lives brutally cut short; essential opportunities denied to Indigenous children and youth; and the lack of adequate financial and other assistance to maintain and revitalize Indigenous cultures, traditions and languages in the face of continued threats.

    All these bodies have called on federal and other governments to heal the harm and build positive relations between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples.  Canada must act now to fully safeguard and implement the fundamental human rights and protections affirmed in the United Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

    In the last session of Parliament, Senate filibustering prevented the passage of Bill C-262, a private member’s Bill that would have established a legislative framework to guide the work of implementing the Declaration. This was despite the fact that Bill C-262 had been debated and adopted by the House of Commons in 2018 and that all parties in the House had subsequently joined in a unanimous, non-partisan motion calling on the Senate to pass Bill C-262 into law.

    While our Nations and organizations were profoundly disappointed that the opportunity to adopt this crucial legislation was so cavalierly squandered, an important foundation has been established. The next session of Parliament must build on this foundation by prioritizing the earliest possible adoption of government legislation that fully reflects or exceeds Bill C-262. Key elements would include:

    • Repudiation of colonial laws, policies and doctrines.
    • A commitment to work collaboratively with Indigenous peoples in every aspect of implementation of the Declaration.
    • A process to reform federal laws, policies and regulations to ensure they meet or exceed the minimum standards set out in the Declaration.
    • A commitment to develop a national action plan for collaborative implementation of the Declaration’s provisions.
    • A requirement for regular reporting to Parliament so that there is transparency and accountability for the progress made.

    The Declaration was adopted by the UN General Assembly 12 years ago, on September 13, 2007. The Declaration’s provisions reflect the way that existing human rights protections, including legally binding international treaties, have been interpreted and applied by international and regional human rights bodies. In other words, Canada’s obligation to respect, protect and fulfill the rights affirmed in the Declaration is well-established and concrete measures to implement these provisions are long overdue.

    The Declaration is not abstract or merely aspirational. It affirms the minimum standards urgently needed to address and heal the harms inflicted on Indigenous peoples by a long history of racist and discriminatory laws, policies, and practices.

    2019 is the International Year of Indigenous Languages. In this important year, we can look to the Declaration for guidance on language rights:

    Article 13 affirms the right of Indigenous peoples to “revitalize, use, develop and transmit to future generations their histories, language, oral traditions, philosophies, writing systems and literatures and to designate and retain their own names for communities, places and persons.” Article 14 states that “Indigenous peoples have the right to establish and control their educational systems and institutions providing education in their own languages, in a manner appropriate to their cultural methods of teaching and learning.” The Declaration also calls on states to take effective measures, including through funding and other assistance, to ensure the “full realization” of these rights.

    This is merely one example of using the Declaration effectively to guide the promotion and protection of Indigenous peoples’ human rights.

    Accordingly, our Nations and Organizations are calling on all candidates in the federal election to commit to:

    1. Supporting the earliest possible adoption of a federal legislative framework for implementation of the Declaration that, at a minimum, provides the essential implementation measures set out in C-262
    2. Advocating for adequate, sustained funding for Indigenous peoples’ organizations, including cultural centres working at the community level, to support, reclaim, revitalize and maintain Indigenous languages.

     

    The Coalition for the Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples (www.declarationcoaliton.ca)

    This statement was endorsed by the following organizations and individuals:

    Amnesty International Canada / Amnistie Internationale Canada

    Assembly of First Nations

    Assemblée des Premières Nations du Québec et Labrador / Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador

    BC Assembly of First Nations

    Canadian Friends Service Committee (Quakers)

    First Nations Summit

    Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee)

    Indigenous-Settler Relations, Mennonite Church Canada

    Indigenous World Association

    KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives

    Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs

    Dr. Sheryl Lightfoot, Canada Research Chair of Global Indigenous Rights and Politics, University of British Columbia

    Dr. Wilton Littlechild, IPC, former TRC Commissioner. 

    Dr. Mariam Wallet Aboubakrine, Expert Member, UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues

    For more information on implementation of the UN Declaration, please see our factsheets at Declaration Coalition.

    • Interpreting the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
    • Myths and Misrepresentations about the UN Declaration and Bill C-262
    • Free, Prior and Informed Consent FAQ
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    Election Resource: Indigenous Rights

    Few people are in greater need of human rights protection than Indigenous peoples. Globally, about 370 million Indigenous people face widespread systemic discrimination, impoverishment, ill health, and dispossession of their lands and resources. Although governments have a duty and responsibility to ensure the welfare and safety of all their citizens, Indigenous peoples are often subject to policies that erode or suppress their rights and distinct cultural identities. Canada is no exception. 

    Legislation based on the UN Declaration is critical for reconciliation in Canada.   

    Questions for Candidates: 

    • Will you commit to the implementation of the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in Canada by supporting a government bill as strong as Bill C-262? 
    • How do you plan to support local First Nation, Métis or Inuit communities?  
    • How will you create positive change for Indigenous communities? 
    • How do you plan to empower Indigenous peoples in Canada? 

     

    To read more, click here KAIROS ELECTION RESOURCE.

     

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