After close to 30 years of negotiations, in 2007 the United Nations adopted the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). It is an International Human Rights instrument drafted with the input of 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 the government and Churches to adopt and implement UNDRIP, 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.”
However, under past and present governments Canada has been consistently reticent to endorse UNDRIP. Today, the Government of Canada has stated its recognition of and support for the implementation of UNDRIP and the Truth and Reconciliation 94 Calls to action, but much work needs to be done to enact and fulfill this commitment.
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 UNDRIP. 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.”
Bill C-262 passed second reading in the House of Commons on February 7, 2018 and is now being studied by the Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs. Please join with other Christians in urging the Canadian government to fulfill its commitment to reconciliation by supporting the passage of this important bill through Parliament.
Send a message to your local Member of Parliament.