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Canada: Implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

    Friday, September 29, 2017 - 13:46

    It’s been a decade since the United Nations adopted the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. It has been more than three decades since the process to develop this human rights instrument first began.

    During this time, Canada’s position on the Declaration has changed repeatedly with the election of new governments and even with changes in Cabinet.

    Under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the federal government has now made numerous, welcome commitments to respect and uphold the UN Declaration.

    Words alone, however, are not enough.

    Concrete implementation of the Declaration is overdue. This requires the federal government to work with First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples to carry out concrete reforms to Canada’s laws and the government’s programmes and priorities.

    Critically, the commitment to uphold the Declaration, and the process for achieving this objective, need to be enshrined in national legislation so that it is not readily abandoned on the whim of politicians.

    A private members bill now before Parliament -- Bill C-262 -- would establish an overall legislative framework for government to work with Indigenous peoples to develop a national action plan for implementation of the Declaration. The Bill also requires regular reporting to Parliament on the progress being made.

    Amnesty International has joined Indigenous peoples’ organizations in urging the federal government to embrace and build on this approach.

    Please write to your Member of Parliament expressing your support for national legislation reflecting Canada’s commitments to uphold the human rights of Indigenous peoples.

    You can find your MP's name and their address here.

    Please consider making the following points:

    • The federal government’s public support for the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is important and welcome, but we need concrete measures to put its provisions into practice.
    • Implementation of the UN Declaration is too important to the future of Canada to go forward on a haphazard or piecemeal basis.
    • In August, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination called on Canada to establish a legislative framework to guide and ensure full implementation of the Declaration.
    • The private members bill introduced by Romeo Saganash, Bill C-262, provides a formal framework for collaboration between the government and Indigenous peoples and for accountability to Parliament for the progress that is made.
    • All Members of Parliament should embrace the approach to implementation set out in Bill C-262 as essential to meeting Canada’s commitments to respect and uphold the human rights of Indigenous Peoples.
    • Parliament should pass national legislation providing an effective, sustainable framework for full implementation of the UN Declaration.
    • A crucial element of such legislation should be a commitment to work with Indigenous peoples on a collaborative and inclusive basis in developing a national action plan to set priorities and goals for implementation.