The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is an international human rights instrument drafted with Indigenous Peoples and adopted by the UN General Assembly on September 13, 2007 after more than two decades of negotiations.
The Declaration affirms the inherent or pre-existing collective human rights of Indigenous Peoples, as well as the individual human rights of Indigenous women, men and children. It provides a framework for justice and reconciliation, applying existing human rights standards to the specific historical, cultural and social circumstances of Indigenous Peoples.
The Declaration also states that the rights it contains “constitute the minimum standards for the survival, dignity and well-being of the indigenous peoples of the world.”
This spring, MP Romeo Saganash tabled Bill C-262 to ensure that the laws of Canada respect the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Romeo spent 23 years at the United Nations negotiating the Declaration which was endorsed by Canada in 2010. This is the second time that he has tabled a bill of this nature: in the previous Parliament, his bill was fully endorsed by his party. The Liberals and Greens also voted in favour. The Prime Minister has stipulated that implementation of the UN Declaration is a priority for his government.
Within the legislative framework of this bill, impacts such as intergenerational trauma, severe impoverishment, epidemics of suicide, impairment of mental and physical health, and profound loss of hope should receive the attention they deserve. Legislative implementation of the UN Declaration will contribute to ensuring that progress made will not be easily reversed by any future government and implementation of the UN Declaration would explicitly reject colonialism, in favour of justice, equality, respect for human rights and good faith. This bill legislates a national action plan in cooperation and collaboration with Indigenous Peoples as called for by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and will provide clarity and highlight the importance of harmonizing federal laws: something that will facilitate investment and development.
According to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Canada must adopt and implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as the framework for reconciliation.
What people are saying:
"In this era of reconciliation, the time to atone for what was done is now. Bill C-262 will help to undo those laws that continue to perpetuate that past history and lays out the foundation to work collaboratively together to address the impact of the destruction those laws have caused.”" - Senator Murray Sinclair
"We believe the passage of Bill C-262 will be one of a number of steps necessary for the ultimate demise of the Indian Act necessary for decolonization, restoration of our traditional forms of governance, and the exertion of our inherent jurisdiction and implementation of our treaties." - Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs
"NAN and COO support the adoption and implementation of the UNDRIP, which recognizes the collective rights of Aboriginal Peoples living in Canada including inherent rights to traditional lands and territories, self-determination, and recognition of culture and language. We thank the Hon. Romeo Saganash for his efforts and we encourage this government to match its commitments to reconciliation with action." - Nishnawbe Aski Nation, Chiefs of Ontario
"The commitment to the UN declaration is part of the journey needed to understand the legacy of colonialism and provide new pathways to healing. NDP MP Romeo Saganash presents an opportunity to reject the colonial past in favour of a contemporary approach based on justice, equality, respect for human rights and good faith." - Grand Council of the Cree
"The development of the Declaration took more than two decades. Another decade has passed since the negotiations concluded. It is time for the government of Canada to commit to re-engage in a collaborative dialogue with Indigenous peoples to take the Declaration to the necessary next stage of domestic implementation. Bill C-262 provides a framework for doing so in a way that is principled, systematic, cooperative, transparent and accountable. This approach deserves the support of all Parliamentarians, all Parties and all Canadians." - Coalition for the Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples