A coalition of Faith Based Organizations is calling on the Senate to pass Bill C-262. As people of faith we are committed to forging right relationships with Indigenous Peoples out from under the legacy of centuries of great harm done by the churches and governments to Indigenous Peoples and their ways of life, communities, and individuals. Bill C-262 will be a right step toward ensuring the rights of Indigenous Peoples are respected and honoured in Canada.
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.”
Previous Canadian governments have been reticent to implement the UN Declaration in its entirely, referring to it as an "aspirational" document. However, the current government has stated its recognition of and support for the implementation of the UN Declaration. Having passed all three readings in the House of Commons, Bill C-262 now faces further debate and vote in the Senate.
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.”
Please join us in urging 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.
For further information, see resources by the Coalition for the Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples here.
Coalition of Faith Communities:
- Canadian Friends Service Committee (Quakers)
- Christian Peacemaker Teams - Indigenous Peoples Solidarity
- KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives
- Mennonite Church Canada - Indigenous Settler Relations
- Mennonite Central Committee National Indigenous Neighbours Program