Indigenous leaders across the country are reviewing a bill tabled by the federal government regarding the rights of Indigenous people.
The government has introduced its adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP) into the House of Commons as Bill C-15.
“The bill condemns the racist and colonial doctrines and beliefs that have led to grave human rights abuses like the residential school system,” said Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde during a press conference.
The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) is cautiously optimistic it will lead to better collaboration between government and their communities.
“It is my hope that the document will address those specific areas when it comes to housing supports, our communities to live a better quality of life that was intended to in terms of the spirit and intent of (each) treaty,” said FSIN Fourth Vice Chief Heather Bear.
The FSIN said its lawyers are reviewing the bill and its leaders will be discussing it over the coming weeks.
Métis Nation-Saskatchewan (MN-S) said it’s pleased to see Canada move forward with UNDRIP.
“Meaningful implementation of UNDRIP must include an ongoing process that ensures the voice of our people is heard and include respect for Métis values, culture, the Michif language and Métis way of life,” said MN-S Vice President and Minister of Justice Gerald Morin in a statement to Global News.
“Genuine implementation of UNDRIP can only be done with the active participation of Indigenous governments and the citizens we represent. We hope that this legislation marks the beginning of real, substantive government to government action and ensures UNDRIP will steer and guide us forward in a good way for generations to come,” he added.
A similar private members bill passed through the House of Commons in 2018 only to stall in the Senate.
When the legislation was introduced at the United Nations in 2007, Canada was one of four nations to vote against it.
The main point of concern was a provision around land claims and requiring consent needed for resource development.
“Implementing the declarations should not be scary. It provides Canada with a road map to truly legislate the honour of the Crown,” said Crown-Indigenous relations minister Carolyn Bennett during the press conference.
British Columbia became the first Canadian province to adopt UNDRIP last year.