As people of faith we are committed to addressing the legacy of harm done to Indigenous Peoples by churches and governments, and to forging right relationships. Bill C-262 will be an excellent step toward ensuring the rights of Indigenous Peoples are respected and honoured in Canada.
As a recent letter from faith leaders to the Senate states, “The TRC has stated that the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is the framework for reconciliation. As churches and ecumenical agencies, we are also responding to the TRC’s call to adopt and comply with the Declaration as the framework of reconciliation.”
In mid-March, a delegation of these same church leaders visited the Senate. They heard strong support from some Senators. They were reminded, however, that others were seriously concerned about the Declaration’s provisions for free, prior, and informed consent (FPIC). While we have provided information from legal scholars about FPIC to the Senators, including how free, prior and informed consent enables federal, provincial and territorial governments to meet their constitutional obligations, by moving the bill to committee, Senators will also be able to learn from expert witnesses on this topic. Senators still need to hear from Canadians about the importance of moving this bill forward.
Time is of the essence to ensure the Bill C-262 passes before the election is called. If the bill does not pass through committee and third reading by June, it will not become law. Many of you have already contacted the Senators and encouraged them to act; in order to continue to seek active movement through the Senate, we encourage you to send another letter.
Please join us in continuing to urge the Canadian government to fulfill its commitment to reconciliation by supporting the passage of this important bill through the Senate.
Send a message to the Senators.
Background Information on Bill C-262:
After close to 30 years of negotiations, in 2007 the United Nations adopted the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UN Declaration). It is an International Human Rights instrument drafted with Indigenous Peoples globally advocating for the recognition of their basic human rights.
In response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Calls to action #48 and #49, calling on governments and churches to adopt and implement the UN Declaration, in January 2017 MCC Canada issued a statement of lament, apology, and commitment to its full implementation. This commitment by MCC articulated, among other things, that “we affirm the principles of self-determination, equality and respect embedded in UNDRIP and commit ourselves anew to the ministry of reconciliation entrusted to us by Jesus Christ, the great reconciler.”
Bill C-262, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act(introduced by MP Romeo Saganash), is a private member’s bill that will ensure that the laws of Canada are in harmony with the UN Declaration. It has five elements that are crucial to fulfilling this promise including:
- Setting out the key principles that must guide implementation of the Declaration.
- Providing clear public affirmation that the standards set out in the Declaration have “application in Canadian law.”
- Requiring a process for the review of federal legislation to ensure consistency with the minimum standards set out in the Declaration.
- Requiring the federal government to work with Indigenous Peoples to develop a national action plan to implement the Declaration.
- Providing transparency and accountability by requiring annual reporting to Parliament on progress made toward implementation of the Declaration.
There has been wide support from Indigenous communities and organizations for the passage of Bill C-262, including statements made by the Coalition for the Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples, as well as the Nishnawbe Aski Nation and Chiefs of Ontario who stated that they “support the adoption and implementation of the UNDRIP, which recognizes the collective rights of Aboriginal Peoples living in Canada including inherent rights to traditional lands and territories, self-determination, and recognition of culture and language.”.
For further information, see resources by the Coalition for the Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples here.