We call upon federal, provincial, territorial, and municipal governments to fully adopt and implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as the framework for reconciliation

Indigenous Watchdog Status Update

Current StatusAug. 17, 2020STALLED
Previous StatusJune 15, 2020STALLED

Why “Stalled”?

Bill C-292An Act to ensure that the laws of Canada are in harmony with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples” died in the Senate on June 21, 2019 where the “unelected” Conservative senators scuttled a Bill passed by a House of Commons “elected” majority by a vote of 206 (Liberals, NDP, Green, Bloc Quebecois) to 79 (all conservatives). Principles

On Dec. 5, 2019 the federal government Speech from the Throne committed to develop and introduce legislation to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in the first year of the new mandate. The main question is how they will ensure passage given the entrenched opposition within the Senate conservatives.

Only BC, Ontario, Quebec and the Northwest Territories have made legislative commitments to develop and implement UNDRIP legislation.

Significant deletion from federal government official response:

Deleted reference to Bill C-262 on harmonization of federal laws with the UN Declaration.

Provincial Government Commitments to Implement UNDRIP

British Columbia

July 25, 2017 – New NDP premier re-affirmed his party’s commitment to adopt the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the calls to action of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission and has each of his 22 ministers to review policies, programs and legislation to determine how to bring the principles of the declaration into action in British Columbia

Sept. 6, 2017 – B.C. Cabinet and First Nations Leaders’ Gathering delivered a unified commitment to a government-to-government relationship built upon the recognition of Indigenous title and rights as the path towards reconciliation, with the Tsilhqot’in Supreme Court decision, the UN Declaration and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action as the guide.

Mar. 15, 2019 – Seven Secwepemc communities and the Province (Ministers of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation; Environment and Climate Change Strategy; Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development; and Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources) have committed to collaborating on a long-term reconciliation agreement focused on implementing inherent rights, improving community well-being and advancing government-to-government relationships. They will align their work with the principles of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The agreement sets the foundation for a government-to-government (G2G) relationship that can grow and evolve over time and support self-determination and economic prosperity – now and for future generations.

Oct. 24, 2019 – Premier John Horgan’s government introduced Bill 41 – ”The Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act” to have the laws of BC reflect the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The declaration’s 46 articles are aimed at making sure Indigenous peoples can survive with dignity and are treated fairly and with equity after colonization. (Toronto Star)

Over time as laws are modified or built, they will be aligned with the UN Declaration. Additional elements of the bill include:

  • a requirement to develop an action plan to meet the objectives of the UN Declaration, in collaboration with Indigenous peoples;
  • annual public reporting to monitor progress;
  • discretion for new decision-making agreements between the Province and Indigenous governments where decisions directly affect Indigenous peoples and mechanisms exist in applicable legislation – with clear processes, administrative fairness and transparency; and
  • recognition for additional forms of Indigenous governments in agreement-making, such as multiple Nations working together as a collective, or hereditary governments – as determined and recognized by the citizens of the Nation.

Businesses and investors will benefit as it creates certainty and predictability for projects in this province, British Columbians will benefit from job creation, and First Nations will benefit by having a seat at the table. We are finally moving forward together.” AFN BC Regional Chief Terry Teegee.

Ontario

Mar. 6, 2019 – “Bill 76 – An Act to ensure that the laws of Ontario are in harmony with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples”, a Private Members Bill introduced for First reading in the Ontario legislature Sol Mamakwa, Member of Provincial Parliament, Kiiwetinoong and the Official Opposition Critic for Indigenous Relations. The Bill enacts the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act, 2019. The Act requires the Government of Ontario to take all measures necessary to ensure that the laws of Ontario are consistent with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Mar. 16, 2019 – “With the passage of this bill, Ontario will take a positive, concrete action towards formalizing a respectful relationship with the Indigenous Peoples of this province.” Mamakwa adds, approval will ensure provincial recognition of the basic human rights and fundamental freedoms of Indigenous People, stating, “Given the fragile nature between the state and the Indigenous Peoples, the current efforts to reconcile these relationships in Canada, it is vital that Ontario fully acknowledge and protect these rights.” (931 The Border).

Mar. 26, 2019 – Second reading of Bill 76 passed by a vote of 91-0 last week. It will now go to committee.

Quebec

Oct. 3, 2019 – Quebec Solidaire submitted a motion unanimously supported by the National Assembly on October 3, which states that the government must “commit to negotiating the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples with First Nations and Inuit”.

Sept. 20, 2019 – Viens Commission Final Report “Public Inquiry Commission on relations between Indigenous Peoples and certain public services in Quebec: listening, reconciliation and progress” included recognition and implementation of UNDRIP among its first 3 recommendations of 142 after an official apology to members of First Nations and Inuit “for the harm caused by laws, policies, standards and the practices of public service providers.

Feb. 7, 2017 – Quebec’s Mining Act fails to require consultation or consent from Indigenous nations. On February 1, 2017, the Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador adopted a unanimous resolution proposed by Barriere Lake condemning the Mining Act of Quebec as “unconstitutional” in regard to Indigenous rights.

Sept. 14, 2019 – François Legault, Leader of Coalition Avenir Quebec in a letter to Ghislain Picard, Chief of the Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador stated that a CAQ government would implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples with the full collaboration of Indigenous peoples.

Northwest Territories

Oct. 25, 2019 – The government of the Northwest Territories has committed to implementing UNDRIP within the constitutional framework of Canada as a legislative priority according to the following timeline:

1.a. Terms of Reference developed (Summer 2020);

  • Working group with Indigenous governments established (Summer 2020);
  • Implementation plan completed (Summer 2022); and
  • Reporting on program changes provided (Ongoing)

1.b. Federal process informs NWT action plan and implementation, including program changes.

Indigenous Responses to Failure of Bill C-262 UNDRIP legislation to pass in the Senate

Inuit Tapariit Kanatami

June 25, 2019 – ITK regrets that “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 Peoples (UNDRIP)”, died on the order paper. Bill C-262, a private member’s bill, was introduced by NDP MP Romeo Saganash and would ensure that federal laws are brought in line with the UNDRIP. We call on all parties to commit to prioritizing the re-introduction and passage of Bills regarding domestic UNDRIP implementation and incorporating Inuit, First Nations, and Metis into the citizenship oath during the next session of Parliament. We call on all parties to commit to prioritizing the re-introduction and passage of a Bill regarding domestic UNDRIP implementation.

Assembly of First Nations

Sept. 9, 2019 – The AFN identified legislation to implement the UN Declaration “that is at least as strong as Bill C-262” as a key commitment in its document Honouring Promises: 2019 Federal Election Priorities for First Nations and Canada released just before the writ was issued for the 2019 election.
The AFN will work with the current Minority Government to ensure they follow through on the commitment to create federal legislation to implement the UN Declaration. The AFN is urging each party leader to support the tabling of federal legislation implementing the UN Declaration as the first order of business in the First Session of Parliament.

The Assembly of First Nations of Quebec-Labrador (AFNQL)

June 25, 2019 – The Assembly of First Nations of Quebec-Labrador (AFNQL) deplores that Bill C-262 died on the order paper…. Because of the despicable political partisanship that took precedence over the collective interest, the bill could not be passed by the Senate and then receive royal assent, despite a very reasonable delay of more than a year spent in this institution. “History is repeating itself; our rights are once again being put aside. Some would say we will have to wait on the election to carry on with the fight that stops with the defeat of C-92. Be that as it may, no matter what the outcome of the election may be, we have invested too much already for any government to take us back to square one,” says AFNQL Chief Ghislain Picard.

First Nations Leadership Council

BC Assembly of First Nations, First Nations Summit and Union of BC Indian Chiefs)

June 23, 2019 -. The failure to pass C-262 is a clear step backwards for reconciliation across this country. Despite the death of Bill C-262, the UN Declaration has status of customary international law and is fully applicable to Canada without requiring statutory implementation—although the proposal for a national plan in Bill C-262 would have been important for concrete and meaningful progress. The UN Declaration remains a valuable human rights instrument which is guiding better understandings of Indigenous peoples’ human rights and assisting to improve relationships and respect through various other legislative enactments.
The BC Cabinet approved the Commitment Document in 2018 and in follow-up the FNLC is working actively with the Government of BC to co-develop provincial legislation supporting the implementation of the UN Declaration in BC following BC commitments in the 2019 Throne Speech which stated; “This year, government has begun working with First Nations to make sure they are full participants in decision-making that affect their rights and lands. B.C. will be the first province in Canada to introduce legislation to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, legislation co-developed with the First Nations Leadership Council and other Indigenous organizations. This legislation will form the foundation for the Province’s work on reconciliation, mandating government to bring provincial laws and policies into harmony with the Declaration.”
The FNLC will continue to work vigorously with governments at all levels, national, provincial and municipal, to fully implement the UN Declaration. In the lead up to and following the October federal election, the FNLC will be advocating for all parties to endorse a renewed UN Declaration implementation in support of this critical human rights instrument. Support for the UN Declaration must be recognized as a non-partisan issue that is critical to achieving true lasting reconciliation across Canada.

Other Government Commitments to UNDRIP

Alberta

May 31, 2017 – The Indigenous Wisdom Advisory Panel will advise Alberta’s Chief Scientist about how to incorporate Indigenous perspectives and traditional ecological knowledge into environmental monitoring. Based on a commitment to UNDRIP (CBC)

Dec. 15, 2015 – Each ministry concluded its DRIP review in December, 2015 and are now formulating action plans to implement the principles and objectives of the UN Declaration so that First Nations, Métis and Inuit people are able to participate as equals in all aspects of Alberta’s society while maintaining their cultures and unique identities

July 7, 2015 – In an open letter to provincial cabinet members, Premier Notley asked each Minister to conduct a review of their policies, programs, and legislation that might require changes based on the principles of the UN Declaration.

Manitoba

May 20, 2020: Amnesty InternationalDespite legal obligations, Manitoba Hydro has not worked collaboratively to obtain consent to this most recent decision to expand operations (Keeyask Hydro project) and is ignoring requests by the four partner First Nations (Fox Lake, War, York Factory) to limit work at the dam site because of public health concerns. “Every effort must be made to contain the spread of COVID-19,” said Ana Collins, Indigenous Rights Campaign Advisor with Amnesty International Canada.

“Indigenous communities in northern Manitoba are rightfully occupying and defending lands to which they still hold inherent title. Yet federal and provincial governments continue to rely upon repudiated papal doctrines of discovery and terra nullius to claim (as in the Haida decision) “presumed Crown sovereignty.” Northern

Manitoba First Nations had the highest rates of hospitalizations of all First Nations in Canada during the last H1N1 pandemic. MacLean’s July 16, 2009

Aug 24, 2017 – The Manitoba government has formally entered into an agreement with the Interlake Reserves Tribal Council (IRTC) that will allow them to consult, engage and discuss innovative ideas for the proposed Lake Manitoba Lake St. Martin Outlet Channels project. The consultation process will allow for information sharing and understanding of the proposed project, and will gather perspectives of the IRTC First Nations communities with the objective of fulfilling their constitutional duty to consult

March, 2016 – Committed to reconciliation and guided by the TRC Calls to Action and the principals set out in UNDRIP

Yukon

Jan. 24, 2016 – Yukon Government’s Deputy Ministers’ Report to the Premier on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada Report reaffirms May 2014 Endorsement of  Canada’s 2010 Statement of Support for the declaration. As declaration is not fully consistent with already implemented Final and Self- government Agreements, no initiatives are planned or underway.

Inuit Nunangat

Jan. 24, 2017 – Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami released a position paper today on implementing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in Canada. The paper outlines Inuit expectations regarding the federal government’s commitment to implementing the UNDRIP. It describes ITK’s preferred approach to working in partnership with the federal government on implementing the critical human rights norms articulated by the document, including through national legislation.

https://www.itk.ca/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/ITK-Position-Paper-Implementing-the-UN-Declaration-on-the-Rights-of-Indigenous-Peoples-English.pdf

Official Federal Government Response: Sept. 5, 2019

The Government of Canada is committed to a renewed nation-to-nation, government-to-government and Inuit-Crown relationship based on the recognition of rights, respect, cooperation and partnership.

In 2016, the Government of Canada announced its full support of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UN declaration) without qualification and committed to its full and effective implementation. To implement the UN declaration, a transformative shift in relations with Indigenous peoples is required. Relations must be based on the recognition of Indigenous rights.

Working with First Nations, Inuit and Métis partners, the Government of Canada will ensure that federal legislation and policies relevant to Indigenous peoples are based on the recognition and implementation of Indigenous peoples’ rights, including the right of self-determination and the inherent right of self-government. For example, it will continue to engage with First Nations, Inuit and Métis to replace the outdated Comprehensive Land Claims and Inherent Right policies and is committed to take the time needed to get this right.

Engagement is setting the stage for co-development with Indigenous partners of a new rights-based policy. The new policy will concretely advance reconciliation with Indigenous peoples through the recognition and implementation of Indigenous rights and will align with the UNdeclaration.

The following measures have been undertaken since 2015:

  • endorsed the UN declaration and committed to its full implementation
  • established the Working Group of Ministers on the Review of Laws and Policies Related to Indigenous Peoples whose work is now being built upon by the new Cabinet Committee on Reconciliation
  • adopted and released the Principles Respecting the Government of Canada’s Relationship with Indigenous Peoples
  • adopted new strategies to pursue negotiation rather than litigation as the preferred path to resolve disputes, including the release of the Directive on Civil Litigation Involving Indigenous Peoples
  • worked with First Nations, Inuit and Métis to co-develop and advance shared priorities