The federal government has tabled long-awaited legislation in the House of Commons, to begin the process of aligning Canadian laws under the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
The Liberals see implementation of Bill C-15 as an additional path towards reconciliation, but also reaffirming Indigenous Peoples Rights.
“Indigenous Peoples now have a full box of Rights,” Crown Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett said. “Sadly, despite robust Constitutional and legal protections Indigenous Rights continue to be misunderstood. The progress has been too slow and the impacts of denying Rights has had serious consequences.”
Bill C-15 proposes to affirm the Declaration as a universal international human rights instrument with application in Canadian law. The Bill also provides a framework for its implementation by the Government of Canada.
If passed the legislation would require Ottawa to take all measures necessary to ensure that the laws of Canada are consistent with the rights of Indigenous peoples set out in the Declaration, as well as to develop an action plan to achieve its objectives.
“This UN Declaration sets out the minimum human rights standards that are well established and international law. And these minimum standards are essential to closing the gap in the quality of life and access to basic services facing First Nations today. These minimum standards are essential to healing the wounds of injustice and systemic racism,” said AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde. “The declaration will promote sustainable development in which Indigenous Peoples are full partners. This is a necessary foundation for a just and prosperous Canada. It will create economic stability and economic certainty. And we have to face the fact that the status quo is not working.”
This legislation, mirrors a previous bill tabled by the NDP, which died in the Senate. The Metis Nation said its in support of this legislation.