Our Nations and organizations are celebrating the fact that long awaited and hard-fought national legislation to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UN Declaration) has successfully passed the final vote in the Senate.
Read Assembly of First Nations' (AFN) press release Federal Legislation to Implement UN Declaration Major Step Toward Addressing Racism and Discrimination in Canada
Read FNLC press release on passing of Bill C-15 in Canada's Senate
Read The Coalition's statement in response to the passage of Bill C-15
Bill C-15 - An Act respecting the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
Bill C-15, An Act respecting the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, is federal legislation that was tabled in the House of Commons in December 2020. If passed, it will affirm that the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples applies to Canadian law. The UN Declaration is a human rights instrument that establishes minimum international standards for the survival, dignity and well-being of Indigenous peoples, as well as obligations on states to positively uphold those standards. In 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada Calls to Action #43 and #44 called upon the Government of Canada to fully adopt and implement the UN Declaration as the “framework for reconciliation”.
Implementating this legislation is about working together to put Canada's human rights commitments into practice. I ask Canadians to join us in urging the federal government to now move forward as quickly as possible. Let's make sure that Canada is on the path to implementation before this session of Parliament ends - National Chief Perry Bellegarde
The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is an international human rights instrument that establishes minimum standards for the survival, dignity and well-being of the Indigenous peoples of the world. The UN Declaration recognizes both individual and collective rights and freedoms. It affirms that the legal principle of self-determination of peoples, entrenched into international law with the 1945 UN Charter, applies to Indigenous peoples. Article 3 of the UN Declaration states:
Indigenous peoples have the right to self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.
Like other human rights, the rights that the UN Declaration protects are inherent. This means the UN Declaration does not create new rights, but instead recognizes rights that already exist by virtue of Indigenous peoples’ status as distinct peoples with distinct cultures, societies, and legal orders. The UN Declaration also affirms obligations on states to not only respect these inherent rights but take positive action to uphold them.
What the BC legislation demonstrated is that there is a broad consensus around the need for new approaches to reconciliation. Canadians know from experience that ignoring the rights of Indigenous peoples is a recipe for disaster. Across all sectors of society, including industry, we’re seeing a new willingness to work through what it means to take Indigenous rights seriously - Regional Chief Terry Teegee
Resolution 08/2021 - Enhancing Bill C-15 federal legislation to implement the United Nation Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
Supporting Information Links:
- United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (2007)
- Self-Determination and Territorial Integrity (Paul Joffe, October 2020)
Bill C-15 and the Implementation of Indigenous Peoples’ Human Rights in Canada (The Global Indigenous Rights Research Network, May 2021)