Justice Canada's Action Plan promises an independent human rights process for Indigenous peoples

June 23, 2023 – Ottawa, Ontario – Canadian Human Rights Commission

In response to Justice Canada's release of the United Nations Declaration Act Action Plan on June 21, 2023, Charlotte-Anne Malischewski, Interim Chief Commissioner of the Canadian Human Rights Commission, issues the following statement:

The Canadian Human Rights Commission applauds Justice Canada's release of the United Nations Declaration Act Action Plan. We hope this will be a positive step toward co-creating a better relationship between the Government of Canada and Indigenous peoples.

As the Action Plan recognizes, building mutual respect and understanding requires that Canada take concrete steps to address the injustices, prejudice, violence, systemic racism and discrimination that Indigenous peoples in this country have long faced. The Commission is encouraged to see that the Plan emphasizes the need to ensure that the laws of Canada are consistent with the UN Declaration, as we believe that this important document provides the framework we need to dismantle colonialism and chart a new path forward.

In particular, the Commission welcomes the commitment to establish an independent Indigenous mechanism or mechanisms to expand access to human rights justice for Indigenous peoples. As we have long said, the Canadian Human Rights Act is but one of many instruments to drive change and promote equality.

Meaningful change for Indigenous peoples in Canada requires action in areas that go beyond the scope of the Canadian Human Rights Act. Indigenous peoples have called for the creation of new mechanisms, and we fully support them in this call. Any new mechanisms that advance decolonization and self-determination are welcome, and long overdue.

As work continues on this important initiative, the Commission emphasizes that any new mechanism must be:

  • developed and led permanently by diverse Indigenous peoples, for diverse Indigenous peoples;
  • designed to protect and promote the intersectional rights of Indigenous women and diverse populations, especially those in vulnerable situations;
  • designed to address and remedy systemic issues;
  • easy to access, and easy to use; and
  • designed so that it doesn't create or exacerbate gaps in human rights protections for Indigenous peoples.

While the Action Plan is not final, we believe it is a key stride in the right direction. The Commission eagerly awaits next steps towards implementation of this promising Action Plan, and we look forward to supporting all parties on this shared path toward reconciliation.

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Quick Facts

  • The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is an international human rights instrument that affirms the basic human rights needed for the survival, dignity and well-being of all Indigenous peoples throughout the world.
  • The Declaration was adopted by the United Nations in 2007 and endorsed by Canada in 2016.

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