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Task force holds traditional ceremony for final Indigenous rights report given to City of Vancouver

Click to play video: 'Vancouver set to adopt UNDRIP principles'
Vancouver set to adopt UNDRIP principles
Vancouver could become the first city in the world to live by the principles of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. A task force of city and Indigenous representatives recommends measures ranging from revenue sharing to making sure Indigenous nations are included in decision-making. Emad Agahi reports – Oct 19, 2022

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Task Force presented its final report to the City of Vancouver Wednesday morning.

In a traditional ceremony, B.C. Indigenous leaders spoke on the importance of the final report that outlines measures and actions needed to be taken to push reconciliation forward, not just for Indigenous Peoples but for all British Columbians.

Click to play video: '‘A genuine desire for reconciliation’: Squamish councillor praises UNDRIP report'
‘A genuine desire for reconciliation’: Squamish councillor praises UNDRIP report

Read more: B.C. unveils actions to fulfill UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples commitments

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Khelsilem, a councillor with Squamish Nation Council, talked about the UNDRIP report saying, “this work is a result of minds, hearts and feelings coming together to develop this strategy.”

“When you read the City of Vancouver’s UNDRIP strategy, you will see that the wisdom of the (Indigenous) nations comes through,” said Khelsilem, “but also, the opportunity to achieve outcomes that benefit all of Vancouver and the nations.”

The City of Vancouver’s United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Task Force presented the report in partnership with the Musqueam Indian Band, Squamish Nation and Tsleil-Waututh Nation.

Click to play video: 'City of Vancouver promises new relationship with Indigenous community'
City of Vancouver promises new relationship with Indigenous community

It’s the first co-developed strategy between Indigenous nations and a municipal government in Canada, according to the task force.

The task force hopes the report will be used in other regions across the country, as a framework on how a municipality can work with local Indigenous groups to address “harmful colonial practices and laws.”

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“By working together, we are creating a mutual benefit that everyone can benefit from,” said Khelsilem.

“We all win when our nations work together.”

Read more: B.C. becomes first province to implement UN Indigenous rights declaration

The report has passed through the councils of the three nations and will be considered by city council on Oct. 25 with a recommendation that it be endorsed.

The release of the report Wednesday was marked with a ceremony, with attendees including outgoing Mayor Kennedy Stewart; the national chief of the Assembly of First Nations RoseAnne Archibald, and B.C. regional chief Terry Teegee.

The recommendations are sorted into themes: social, cultural and economic well-being; ending Indigenous-specific racism and discrimination; self-determination and inherent right of self-government; and rights and title of Indigenous Peoples.

Among the calls to action are prioritizing access to cultural sites for the nations’ members and developing a policy to assess industrial infrastructure development through the lens of Indigenous rights and environmental racism.

The report also recommends the Vancouver Police Department work with Indigenous Peoples to integrate into its operations the principles of the United Nations declaration and recommendations from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

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Vancouver is reportedly the first city in the world to implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

— with files from  The Canadian Press and Global News’ Richard Zussman.

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