We call upon the government of Canada to develop a national action plan, strategies and other concrete measures to achieve the goals of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People.

Indigenous Watchdog Status Report

Current StatusOct. 4, 2021IN PROGRESS
Previous StatusSept. 5, 2021IN PROGRESS

Why “In Progress”?

June 21, 2021 – Bill C-15 The United Nations Declaration on the rights of Indigenous people receives Royal Assent and becomes law. Developed with Indigenous Peoples, this Act creates a legislative framework to implement the Declaration in Canada. It requires the Government of Canada, in consultation and collaboration with Indigenous Peoples, to develop an action plan to achieve the Declaration’s objectives and take all measures necessary to align federal laws with the Declaration.

The action plan, which must be developed in collaboration with Indigenous Peoples in three years, will include measures to:

  • address injustices, combat prejudice and eliminate all forms of violence, racism and discrimination against Indigenous Peoples
  • promote mutual respect and understanding, as well as good relations, including through human rights education
  • ensure Canada is held accountable on progress through regular reporting and oversight

This legislation will complement and inform other initiatives underway across Canada with Indigenous partners to close socio-economic gaps, advance reconciliation and renew relationships based on the affirmation of rights, respect, co-operation and partnership. The next step is for the Government of Canada to continue its collaboration with Indigenous partners, on a distinctions-based approach, to understand their priorities for the action plan and to identify measures to align federal laws with the Declaration over time. 

April 19, 2021 – Budget 2021 proposes $31.5M over two years, starting in 2021-22, to support the co-development of an Action Plan with Indigenous partners to implement this legislation and to achieve the objectives of the Declaration.

There is no news to date on progress of the “Working Group of Ministers on the Review of Laws and Policies Related to Indigenous Peoples”. Who replaced Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott and other ministers on the Working Group who have new priorities based on new roles after the 2019 elections.

The official government response is is still focused on a broader discussion around Recognition of Indigenous Rights and Self-Determination tables and discussions around co-developing a rights-based policy to replace the Comprehensive Land Claims Policy and the Inherent Right Policy. The new policies must “align” with UNDRIP. No mention of the Principles respecting the Government of Canada’s relationship with Indigenous peoples that directly addresses UNDRIP implementation

Bill C-15 UNDRIP National Action Plan

6 (1) The Minister must, in consultation and cooperation with Indigenous peoples and with other federal ministers, prepare and implement an action plan to achieve the objectives of the Declaration.

Content

(2) The action plan must include

(a) measures to

(i) address injustices, combat prejudice and eliminate all forms of violence and discrimination, including systemic discrimination, against Indigenous peoples and Indigenous elders, youth, children, women, men, persons with disabilities and gender-diverse persons and two-spirit persons, and

(ii) promote mutual respect and understanding as well as good relations, including through human rights education; and

(b) measures related to monitoring, oversight, recourse or remedy or other accountability measures with respect to the implementation of the Declaration.

Other elements

(3) The action plan must also include measures related to monitoring the implementation of the plan and reviewing and amending the plan.

Time limit

(4) The preparation of the action plan must be completed as soon as practicable, but no later than three years after the day on which this section comes into force.

Tabling in Parliament

(5) The Minister must cause the action plan to be tabled in each House of Parliament as soon as practicable after it has been prepared.

Action plan made public

(6) After the action plan is tabled, the Minister must make it public.

.https://parl.ca/DocumentViewer/en/43-2/bill/C-15/first-reading

Principles respecting the Government of Canada’s relationship with Indigenous peoples

The implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples requires transformative change in the Government’s relationship with Indigenous peoples. The UN Declaration is a statement of the collective and individual rights that are necessary for the survival, dignity and well-being of Indigenous peoples around the world, and the Government must take an active role in enabling these rights to be exercised. The Government will fulfil its commitment to implementing the UN Declaration through the review of laws and policies, as well as other collaborative initiatives and actions. This approach aligns with the UN Declaration itself, which contemplates that it may be implemented by States through various measures. 

This review of laws and policies will be guided by Principles respecting the Government of Canada’s Relationship with Indigenous peoples. These Principles are rooted in section 35, guided by the UN Declaration, and informed by the Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (RCAP) and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC)’s Calls to Action.

  1. The Government of Canada recognizes that all relations with Indigenous peoples need to be based on the recognition and implementation of their right to self-determination, including the inherent right of self-government.
  2. The Government of Canada recognizes that reconciliation is a fundamental purpose of section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982.
  3. The Government of Canada recognizes that the honour of the Crown guides the conduct of the Crown in all of its dealings with Indigenous peoples.
  4. The Government of Canada recognizes that Indigenous self-government is part of Canada’s evolving system of cooperative federalism and distinct orders of government.
  5. The Government of Canada recognizes that treaties, agreements, and other constructive arrangements between Indigenous peoples and the Crown have been and are intended to be acts of reconciliation based on mutual recognition and respect.
  6. The Government of Canada recognizes that meaningful engagement with Indigenous peoples aims to secure their free, prior, and informed consent when Canada proposes to take actions which impact them and their rights, including their lands, territories and resources.
  7. The Government of Canada recognizes that respecting and implementing rights is essential and that any infringement of section 35 rights must by law meet a high threshold of justification which includes Indigenous perspectives and satisfies the Crown’s fiduciary obligations.
  8. The Government of Canada recognizes that reconciliation and self-government require a renewed fiscal relationship, developed in collaboration with Indigenous nations, that promotes a mutually supportive climate for economic partnership and resource development.
  9. The Government of Canada recognizes that reconciliation is an ongoing process that occurs in the context of evolving Indigenous-Crown relationships. T
  10. The Government of Canada recognizes that a distinctions-based approach is needed to ensure that the unique rights, interests and circumstances of the First Nations, the Métis Nation and Inuit are acknowledged, affirmed, and implemented
Working Group of Ministers on the Review of Laws and Policies Related to Indigenous Peoples

The Working Group of Ministers responsible for the review will examine relevant federal laws, policies, and operational practices to help ensure the Crown is meeting its constitutional obligations with respect to:

  • Aboriginal and treaty rights;
  • adhering to international human rights standards, including the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; and
  • supporting the implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action.

The Working Group will work with Indigenous leaders, youth, and experts on various legal and policy questions relating to Indigenous Peoples.

The Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, the Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould, will chair the Working Group, which will comprise six ministers who have significant responsibilities for the relevant statutes and policies to be reviewed. As its first order of business, the Working Group will develop a rigorous work plan and principles, which will reflect a whole-of-government approach that addresses all Indigenous Peoples.

Supported by the Privy Council Office, the working group will comprise:

  • The Hon. Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs
  • The Hon. Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard
  • The Hon. Jody Wilson-Raybould, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada (Chair)
  • The Hon. Jane Philpott, Minister of Health
  • The Hon. Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development
  • The Hon. James Gordon Carr, Minister of Natural Resources
Official Federal Government Response: Sept. 5, 2019

The Government of Canada continues to work in partnership with Indigenous peoples across the country to advance a recognition of rights approach and Indigenous self-determination. For example, there are currently over 80 Recognition of Indigenous Rights and Self-Determination discussions through which Canada and Indigenous groups explore new ideas and ways to reach agreements that will recognize the rights of Indigenous groups and advance their vision of self-determination for the benefit of their communities and all Canadians.

On February 14, 2018, the Prime Minister announced that the Government of Canada will fundamentally transform the relationships with Indigenous peoples by basing the relationship on the recognition and implementation of Indigenous rights. This includes continued engagement with Indigenous peoples to co-develop a rights-based policy that will replace the Comprehensive Land Claims Policy and the Inherent Right Policy. The new policy will align with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and root the commitment to co-development of any section 35, Constitution Act, 1982 policy work going forward.

The over 80 Recognition of Indigenous Rights and Self-Determination discussions tables have often been highlighted as a positive example of reconciliation that is accelerating progress towards self-determination and the implementation of inherent and treaty rights.