Statement – Implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples without delay

The human rights issues facing First Nations, the Métis Nation, and Inuit are among the most pressing in our country. Implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, including through the adoption of Bill C-15 by Parliament, would represent a vital step towards promoting and protecting Indigenous rights in Canada. It would signal a clear commitment to advancing reconciliation.

The CHRC fully supports the view, as stated by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in its Principles for Reconciliation, that the UN Declaration provides the framework for reconciliation.

The Declaration represents an international consensus regarding the “minimum standards for the survival, dignity and well-being of the Indigenous peoples of the world” (Article 43) and is the result of decades of advocacy and work by Indigenous peoples from around the world. It is a strong, comprehensive, and unambiguous articulation and affirmation of the inherent rights of Indigenous peoples that sets out the obligations of States in respect to those rights and provides mechanisms to redress and protect against violations of them.

Canada has repeatedly expressed formal support for the UN Declaration, first in 2010, then in May 2016 without qualification, and more recently in legislation, such as the Indigenous Languages Act. Bill C-15 breathes life into this commitment and charts a path towards full implementation. The Commission joins the chorus of voices calling for the expeditious passage of Bill C-15 through both the House of Commons and the Senate.

The human rights of Indigenous peoples, including the right to self-determination are indivisible and interdependent. The collective rights of Indigenous peoples and the individual rights of Indigenous persons of all ages, genders and abilities will only be adequately protected or properly fulfilled when Indigenous peoples are able to make their own decisions – through their own institutions and according to their own values and traditions.

For generations, Indigenous peoples have been pushing for the recognition of their inherent right to self-determination and the full realization of their human rights. It is time to move forward. Implementing the UN on the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in Canada is long overdue.

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