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 StatusNov. 9, 2020NOT STARTED
Previous StatusAug. 17, 2020NOT STARTED

Why “Not Started”?

There is no mention of or connection with a National Action Plan, strategies or any concrete actions to implement the UN Declaration that died in the Senate. Prime Minister Trudeau committed at the “AFN – Canada Memorandum of Understanding Joint Priorities” meeting on Jan. 14., 2019 that Canada would work with the AFN to develop a National Action Plan that would focus on implementation.

The main focus in the government response is 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

Dec. 5, 2019 – 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. Also, no news on progress of the Working Group of Ministers on the Review of Laws and Policies Related to Indigenous Peoples. Who will replace 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.

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.