Search for "c-262" | Canadian Friends Service Committee (Quakers)

Jun 112019
 

We are hopeful that in a matter of days the Senate will vote to adopt a private member’s bill that would require the federal government to begin in earnest the work of implementing global human rights standards to protect the cultures, lives and well-being of Indigenous peoples.

Bill C-262, a Bill to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, is a vital and necessary step for reconciliation in Canada, consistent with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s recognition of the UN Declaration as “the framework” for reconciliation.

However, some Conservative Senators have already used stalling tactics to delay the Bill’s passage through the Senate and there is concern that they might use such tactics again to prevent a final vote.

These Senators have claimed to support the UN Declaration and the rights of Indigenous peoples while asserting that Bill C-262 is “rushed” and that Parliament has not had the opportunity to understand the “far-reaching” implications of implementing the UN Declaration.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

The long process Bill C-262 has followed before being held up by a handful of Senators.

Bill C-262 was adopted by the House of Commons more than a year ago following Committee hearings in which 71 witnesses were called.  The Bill has now been subject to further consideration in the Senate. More to the point, the UN Declaration itself is not new or unknown.  It rests on a foundation of long-established international human rights standards that have been subject to extensive debate in Canada and internationally.

The UN Declaration was the product of more than two decades of deliberation within the UN system before its adoption in 2007. No other international human rights instrument has been subject to such long and rigorous consideration. Critically, Indigenous peoples from Canada and federal officials both played an active role in this lengthy process.

Since its adoption in 2007, the Declaration has also been reaffirmed ten times by consensus resolutions of the UN General Assembly. No State in the world currently objects to this human rights instrument.

Furthermore, all the provisions of the Declaration reflect norms and standards that were already established in international law when the Declaration was adopted. This includes provisions on self-determination contained in international treaties ratified by Canada in the 1970s.

Because of the Harper government’s initial opposition, the UN Declaration has also been the subject of extensive public debate in Canada, including within Parliament.

In 2010, the Harper government issued a formal statement endorsing the Declaration, adding that the government was “confident” that the Declaration could be interpreted “in a manner consistent with our Constitution and legal framework.” According to the statement, the basis of that confidence was having reviewed the Declaration, listened to Indigenous leaders, and learned from the experience of other countries.

In its Calls to Action, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada has called on federal and other governments to fully implement the UN Declaration as “the framework” for reconciliation.

Bill C-262 inforgraphic

Bill C-262 is itself modest in scope. Canada has repeatedly committed to implement the UN Declaration. The Bill would create a legislative framework to guide the federal government’s role in that work of implementation. 

Critically, the Bill does NOT have the effect of codifying the Declaration into Canadian law.

Bill C-262 calls for a process by which federal laws can be reviewed in a systematic and collaborative way to ensure that Canada’s commitment to uphold the UN Declaration is being met. It would be up to Parliament to enact any required legislative changes identified in this process.

The fact is that Canadian courts regularly use international human rights standards to interpret Canadian law and work to avoid contradictions between the interpretation of Canadian law and Canada’s international commitments. The UN Declaration is already being applied by Canadian courts to interpret Canadian law in exactly this way. C-262 affirms this practice.

The Bill also calls for the government to collaborate with Indigenous peoples in developing a broader national implementation plan. Parliament would be provided an annual report on the progress being made.

Surely this is a better way forward than the piecemeal, uncoordinated and often contradictory approach taken to meeting Canada’s international human rights commitments?

The Liberal government has shifted position to fully support Bill C-262 just as the Conservative government before it changed its position to formally support the UN Declaration. By setting out a legislated requirement to move ahead with the work of implementation of the UN Declaration, Bill C-262 provides an important insulation against whatever political winds may blow under future governments. Anyone who supports implementation of the Declaration should support such a measure.

Because there is no basis for claims that C-262 has been rushed, our Nations and organizations call on all Senators to ensure the Bill is brought to a vote in a timely fashion and passed into law during this session of Parliament. If, instead, some Senators continue to employ procedural tactics to essentially kill the Bill, and oppose the human rights of Indigenous peoples, this will be a very regressive and shameful landmark in the history of the Parliament of Canada.

The Coalition for the Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples (declarationcoaliton.com)

This statement was endorsed by the following organizations and individuals:

Amnesty International Canada / Amnistie international

Assembly of First Nations

BC Assembly of First Nations

Canadian Friends Service Committee (Quakers)

First Nations Summit

Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee)

Indigenous Bar Association

Indigenous World Association

KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives

Métis Nation

Mariam Wallet Med Aboubakrine, Past Chair, UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues

Brenda Gunn, Associate Professor, Robson Hall Faculty of Law, University of Manitoba

Sheryl Lightfoot, Canada Research Chair in Global Indigenous Rights and Politics, University of British Colombia

Dr. Wilton Littlechild

Wendy Moss

Download this joint statement in PDF.

Learn more about the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Feb 082019
 
truth and reconciliation

The following open letter was sent to all Canadian Senators on February 7, 2019

Dear Senator,

Thank you for the work that you do on behalf of Canadians. We pray for continued strength and wisdom as you consider the legislation that comes before you.

As representatives of an ecumenical community committed to the principles of reconciliation1 set forth by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), we write to express our hope that the Senate will support Bill C-262, The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act.

truth and reconciliation
Chief Wilton Littlechild at the TRC‘s closing events. Photo: Ben Powless

The TRC has stated that the Declaration is the framework for reconciliation. As churches and ecumenical agencies, we are also responding to the TRC’s call to adopt and comply with the Declaration as the framework of reconciliation.

Moreover, our membership has actively supported Bill C-262 at all stages of the legislative process. We ask all Senators to support Bill C-262, ensuring its passage through Committee and 3rd reading.

As we write this letter, we are witnessing a confrontation on Wet’suwet’en territory centred on one of the principles of the Declaration, the right of Indigenous peoples to free, prior, and informed consent.

Across the country, Indigenous and non-Indigenous people are coming together to show their support for this right. At the same time, leaders in Indigenous communities are questioning how the RCMP’s actions on Wet’suwet’en territory are compatible with a desire for reconciliation.

In this moment, we believe that Bill C-262 is an important opportunity to affirm Canada’s commitment to reconciliation, and we pray that you will approach it in such a manner.

Bill C-262 affirms the Declaration as having application in Canadian law and ensures clear principles for its implementation. It establishes a collaborative process for reviewing legislation, and provides transparency and accountability by requiring annual reporting to Parliament on progress made toward implementation of the Declaration. It also requires collaboration with Indigenous Peoples in the creation of an implementation plan.

We are at a critical juncture in Canadian history. In 2010, the Federal government, led by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, issued a statement of support endorsing the principles of the Declaration.2

In 2016, the Federal government, led by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, stated that Canada is “a full supporter of the Declaration, without qualification.”3

Now is our chance to breathe life into these public affirmations through tangible action. Together, we can make a non-partisan decision in support of legislative reconciliation.

Indigenous peoples are calling Canada to a path of mutuality and authentic relationship. Non-Indigenous Canadians of all ages and backgrounds are asking the Federal government to honour Indigenous peoples’ human rights. The Senate holds decision-making power to bring Canada closer to honest and fair relationship. Please support Bill C-262.

Our prayers and hope are with you.

The Anglican Church of Canada
Canadian Friends Service Committee (Quakers)
Canadian Baptists of Western Canada
Christian Reformed Church in North America
Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada
KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives
Mennonite Central Committee Canada
Mennonite Church Canada
The Presbyterian Church in Canada
The United Church of Canada

Download this open letter in PDF.

Learn more about the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

  1. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission has articulated 10 principles that are necessary for reconciling relationships between Indigenous and Settler peoples in Canada.

    The first principle states that “The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is the framework for reconciliation at all levels and across all sectors of Canadian society.” For the entire set, see What We Have Learned: Principles of Truth and Reconciliation (Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, 2015), 3-4.

  2. See “Canada’s Statement of Support on the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples,” November 12, 2010, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, http://www.aadnc-aandc.gc.ca/eng/1309374239861/1309374546142.
  3. See “Canada Becomes a Full Supporter of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples,” May 10, 2016, Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, https://www.canada.ca/en/indigenous-northern-affairs/news/2016/05/canada-becomes-a-full-supporter-of-the-united-nations-declaration-on-the-rights-of-indigenous-peoples.html.
May 282018
 

The following open letter was sent to all Members of Parliament
 
Our nations and organizations are urging all Members of Parliament to support Bill C-262 in a non-partisan manner when it comes to a vote at third reading.
 
The government of Stephen Harper endorsed the UN Declaration in 2010 and expressed “confidence” that the Declaration is consistent with Canada’s Constitution and legal framework. The government of Justin Trudeau has repeatedly pledged to fully implement the Declaration. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission, whose Calls to Action have been widely endorsed by a wide range of political parties at the federal, provincial and territorial levels, urged all governments to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as ‘the framework for reconciliation’ in Canada.
 
Bill C-262 provides a legislative framework for the federal government to now move forward with the important and urgent work of implementing the Declaration.
 
Bill C-262 would require the federal government to collaborate with Indigenous peoples in developing a national action plan to implement the UN Declaration. C-262 also calls for a collaborative process to ensure that Canada’s laws live up to the human rights affirmed in the UN Declaration.
 
In Canadian legal tradition, international human rights instruments are considered as relevant and persuasive sources of interpreting human rights domestically. Canadian courts and tribunals are already using the Declaration in this way.
 
As a legislative framework that includes regular reporting to Parliament, Bill C-262 also provides the means to hold this and future governments accountable to the commitments that have been made to honour and respect the rights of Indigenous peoples.
 
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission clearly told us that reconciliation requires hard work by all sectors of society. Adoption of Bill C-262 is a vital part of this journey. Our governments and organizations strongly believe that the collaborative, non-adversarial approach set out in Bill C-262 is in the best interest of all Canadians. We strongly encourage all Members of Parliament to actively support Bill C-262 from this principled perspective.

Background

The UN Declaration was the subject of one of the most extensive standard setting processes ever undertaken in the international human rights system. The collaboration between Canadian government representatives and Indigenous peoples during the final years of negotiation was a key factor in developing a text that could attain broad, global support. Today, the Declaration stands as a global human rights instrument, reaffirmed 8 times by the UN General Assembly by consensus.
Bill C-262 has five key elements:

  • Bill C-262 sets out the principles that must guide implementation of the Declaration, including repudiation of colonialism.
  • Bill C-262 provides clear public affirmation that the standards set out in the UN Declaration have “application in Canadian law.”
  • Bill C-262 requires a collaborative process for the review of federal legislation to ensure consistency with the minimum standards set out in the UN Declaration.
  • Bill C-262 requires the federal government to work with Indigenous peoples to develop a national action plan to implement the UN Declaration.
  • Bill C-262 provides transparency and accountability by requiring annual reporting to Parliament on progress made toward implementation of the Declaration.

 
The Coalition for the Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples
 
This open letter endorsed by:
Amnesty International Canada / Amnistie Internationale Canada
Assembly of First Nations
BC Assembly of First Nations
Canadian Friends Service Committee (Quakers)
First Nations Summit
First Peoples Justice Center of Montreal
Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee)
Brenda Gunn, Associate Professor, Robson Hall Faculty of Law, University of Manitoba
International Chief of Treaty 6, 7, 8, Wilton Littlechild, former Truth & Reconciliation Commissioner
Indigenous World Association
KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives
Sheryl Lightfoot, Canada Research Chair in Global Indigenous Rights and Politics
Métis Nation
Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs
 
Download this open letter in PDF.
 
Learn more about the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Apr 302018
 
truth and reconciliation

On April 24th CFSC program coordinator Jennifer Preston was invited to address Canada’s Parliamentary Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs. The subject was Bill C-262: The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act. The text of what she said is below.
 
Good afternoon, I am the daughter of Sarah Jane and Richard Preston and the mother of Sarah Jane Howe. I was born in the territory of the Leni Lenape, spent significant time in my childhood in Cree territory and now live in traditional Anishnabak and Haudenosaunee territory.
 
Canadian Friends Service Committee (CFSC) is the peace and justice organization of the Religious Society of Friends or Quakers. As a Faith body, Quakers have been working for peace and justice for centuries. Quaker service organizations were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize after the Second World War for our commitment to justice and peace. Quakers are what is called a “historic peace church”. Our peace testimony is the root of our faith. Peace and justice are interlinked. We cannot be at peace where there is injustice.
 
I am not Indigenous and I do not represent an Indigenous constituency. However, when human rights are violated, we all need to be concerned. When Indigenous peoples’ human rights are affirmed and promoted we are all winning. In our view, the UN Declaration is a good news story. Bill C-262 is vitally important to non-Indigenous people in Canada.
 
For the past two decades my professional work has focused deeply on the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples – first in the international processes where it was developed and adopted and then for the past decade on implementation.
 
As someone with a long history of experience and expertise with the Declaration, I have published extensively on the subject including co-editing a book: The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: Triumph, Hope and Action. I am often invited to present on the Declaration to diverse audiences and am delighted to be here today.
 
CFSC fully supports C-262 and we urge all Members of Parliament to adopt it in a non-partisan manner.
 
I gave much thought to what I should share this afternoon. You have heard already from many witnesses. I do not wish to duplicate the efforts of others and at the same time there are some elements surrounding C-262 that are worth repeating.
 
Indigenous peoples went to the UN to negotiate the Declaration because they did not have access to justice in the domestic context. This is the most discussed human rights instrument in the history of the UN and Canada played a significant role. Indigenous peoples did this work to ensure that changes would occur on the ground.
 
In the decade since the General Assembly adoption there have been pockets of interesting work on implementation – accomplished mainly by Indigenous Peoples. But it is overwhelmingly evident to those of us who work intimately with the Declaration that we need the national legislative framework that C-262 provides.
 

The work of reconciliation

Bill C-262 aligns with the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada

Chief Wilton Littlechild at the TRC‘s closing events. Photo: Ben Powless


 
For many Faith bodies, including Quakers, the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) was critically important and created a watershed moment in this country.
 
As you know, the Indian Residential School System was part of the destructive forces of colonization of “Canada”. The exemplary work of the TRC informs us of both the journey and the legacy of colonization.
 

What we learned – the Truth

  • Sexual, physical, spiritual abuse
  • Widespread dispossession of land
  • Attempted destruction of traditional governance and legal structures
  • Religious conversion and efforts at forced assimilation, including the prohibition of languages and traditional cultural and spiritual practices.
  • Racist and sexist Indian Act legislation – much of which is still in effect
  • Secondary consequences associated with loss of culture, language and identity, including intergenerational trauma.

The TRC and the former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada Beverly McLachlin concluded this constituted cultural genocide.
 

What does the TRC suggest to move forward now? – What is reconciliation?

… “reconciliation” is about establishing and maintaining a mutually respectful relationship between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples in this country. In order for that to happen, there has to be awareness of the past, acknowledgement of the harm that has been inflicted, atonement for the causes, and action to change behaviour. ~ Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, What We Have Learned: Principles of Truth and Reconciliation, 2015, at 113

What does reconciliation look like?

I very much concur with Call to Action #43 that the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is “the Framework” for reconciliation. It can also be described as “the Blueprint”. Former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called the Declaration the “roadmap” for reconciliation.
 
The TRC very skillfully wove the UN Declaration through their work. Sixteen Calls to Action refer specifically to the Declaration. Any attempts to undermine the UN Declaration are also striking at reconciliation.
 
And this brings me to Bill C-262. This Bill creates a legislative framework to ensure that we do indeed implement the UN Declaration, not just talk about it. The TRC concluded,“that a refusal to respect the rights and remedies in the Declaration will serve to further aggravate the legacy of residential schools, and will constitute a barrier to progress towards reconciliation.”
 
Bill C-262 offers Canada a crucial opportunity to move from the colonial framework that dispossessed Indigenous peoples, to become a nation state that acknowledges the harm, atones for the causes, and commits to change.
 
Bill C-262 provides the federal government with the framework to create the paradigm shift we so urgently need to move away from colonization.
 
This week National leaders of many Churches in Canada, including those that ran residential schools, are writing to the leaders of all political parties to urge non-partisan support for Bill C-262.
 
Many Faith bodies have been actively championing both the UN Declaration and Bill C-262. Why? Because as people of Faith, we are committed to peace and justice. We recognize the injustice that we have been a part of and we are committed to change. We are committed to the deconstruction of the power structures that have and continue to oppress Indigenous peoples.
 
Change can be difficult or even scary. Of course, I am aware of the fear that has been generated around both the UN Declaration and this Bill. My analysis is that fear is rooted in hanging onto colonial constructs of power and perpetuating the domination and exploitation.
 
Last spring, when on a speaking tour in Northern BC on the Declaration and FPIC, I gave an interview to CBC North. The interview included questions around this fear, and finally I said, “No chicken little, the sky is not falling”. Clearly, I was being rather glib, but the point is –we must let go of unfounded fears. Embrace implementing the UN Declaration through C-262 as something we can be proud of as we move forward into a new reality based on a contemporary human rights framework, not on colonialism.
 
Members of this committee have questioned other witnesses about FPIC. I will not go into any detail on FPIC as Paul Joffe will be covering that in his presentation. However, I wish to reiterate that FPIC was not created in the UN Declaration, it is well established in international law, and Canada has an affirmative legal obligation to respect FPIC.
 
I would suggest a possible addition to the preamble of Bill C-262 to further entrench the importance of reconciliation. The text could be as follows:
 
Whereas, as concluded by Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the Declaration “provides the necessary principles, norms, and standards for reconciliation to flourish in twenty-first-century Canada”;
 
Senator Murray Sinclair informed us that the truth was hard and reconciliation would be harder. At the closing events of the TRC he also instructed all of us: “We have described for you a mountain, we have shown you the path to the top. We call upon you to do the climbing.”
 
In conclusion, over the past two decades occasionally people question me: “Why are Quakers so committed to this work?” The answer is simple. There is no peace without justice.
 
Thank you for your attention.
 
 
Download this statement in PDF.
 
Learn more about the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Feb 052018
 
CFSC partners with KAIROS and many other agencies toward our shared vision of a world where peace and justice prevail

Open Letter to All Members of Parliament

Parliamentarians should embrace Bill C-262 as a crucial step toward shared goal of reconciliation; repudiate fear mongering and misrepresentations of UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission urged all governments to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as ‘the framework for reconciliation’ in Canada. Members of Parliament have a crucial opportunity to contribute to reconciliation by supporting Bill C-262 when it comes to a vote at second reading this month.

Bill C-262 provides a framework for the federal government to collaborate with First Nations, Inuit and the Métis Nation in the important work of ensuring that Canada’s laws, policies and operational practices live up to the human rights commitments affirmed in the UN Declaration. As a legislative framework that integrates regular reporting to Parliament, Bill C-262 provides the means to hold this and future governments accountable for living up to the commitments that they have made to honour and respect the rights of Indigenous peoples.

Our Nations, governments and organizations welcome the fact that this private members bill now has the support of both the Liberals and NDP. In particular, we want to commend all those members of the public who have taken the time to learn about the Declaration and expressed their support for adoption of Bill C-262. We are looking forward to a fulsome debate over the Bill in the coming weeks and strongly urge all Parliamentarians to engage with Indigenous peoples in a serious conversation about how this Bill can be further strengthened before its eventual adoption.

In the midst of this hopeful moment, we note with concern that as momentum has built around Bill C-262, there has also been a blatant backlash in part of the media. A handful of right of center think tanks, retired civil servants and others pundits have been given a platform to grossly misrepresent the Declaration and promote a divisive, even racist response to the inherent rights of Indigenous peoples that is the very antithesis of reconciliation. One of the most malicious of these articles – appearing not in an obscure blog but in a national newspaper – went so far as to claim that the Declaration should be rejected for ‘giving Aboriginals rights nobody else has.’

In the face of this fear-mongering and race-baiting, it is important to be honest and accurate about the relationship between UN Declaration and Canadian law. The Supreme Court of Canada has long used international human rights standards to interpret laws passed by Parliament. Furthermore, it is an established principle of Canadian law that interpretations consistent with Canada’s international human rights obligations are always to be preferred to those that would violate these commitments. There is no principled reason to make an exception for the one universal human rights instrument to specifically address the rights of Indigenous peoples.

The Canadian Constitution is a living legal instrument that evolves through its interpretation. International human rights law including UN Declaration is already part of this ongoing evolution. Canadian courts and the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal are already using the UN Declaration to help understand and apply the constitutional commitment to uphold the inherent rights of Indigenous peoples. The clock cannot be turned back.

Those stoking fears about the Declaration inevitably fasten on those provisions requiring that decisions affecting the lives and well-being of Indigenous peoples be made only with Indigenous peoples’ free, prior and informed consent (FPIC). It is important to understand that these provisions in the Declaration are wholly consistent with a much wider body of international law, including how expert bodies have long interpreted and applied core international human rights Conventions such the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the UN Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination. In other words, even without the Declaration, governments and courts would be called upon to respect and implement the standard of free, prior and informed consent.

Crucially, the concept of FPIC is not foreign to Canadian law and legal history. Treaties would have no legitimacy without Indigenous consent. The Supreme Court of Canada in Delgamuukw (1997) and Haida Nation (2004) stated that Indigenous consent may be required on serious issues to prevent the Crown running roughshod over Indigenous rights and interests. In the Tsilhqot’in decision (2014) the Supreme Court defined Indigenous land title as including the requirement that decisions be made with Indigenous consent. Legitimate debate about implications of adhering to the UN Declaration cannot ignore these facts.

Furthermore, the logic behind the standard of FPIC should not be controversial for anyone genuinely committed to equality and reconciliation. Indigenous peoples or nations have the right of self-determination, consistent with the international covenants that Canada has ratified. This requires recognizing that Indigenous nations have the authority to make their own decisions. To acknowledge the grave harms that have been done to Indigenous peoples throughout our history and strive to undo and prevent such harms – as Canada committed to do when it embraced the TRC’s Calls to Action – requires an end to the federal government arbitrarily imposing its will on Indigenous peoples.

No one can deny that profound changes are urgently needed in how the federal government relates to and treats First Nations, Inuit and the Métis Nation. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission clearly told us that reconciliation requires hard work by all sectors of society. Adoption of Bill C-262 is part of this necessary work. Our governments and organizations strongly believe that the collaborative, non-adversarial approach to law reform set out in Bill C-262 is in the best interest of all Canadians. We strongly encourage all Members of Parliament to approach the upcoming debate around Bill C-262 from this principled perspective.

CFSC partners with KAIROS and many other agencies toward our shared vision of a world where peace and justice prevail

On Parliament Hill Canadians show their support for the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Background

The UN Declaration was the subject of one of the most extensive standard setting processes ever undertaken in the international human rights system. The collaboration between Canadian government representatives and Indigenous peoples during the final years of negotiation was a key factor in developing a text that could attain broad, global support. Today, the Declaration stands as a global human rights instrument, reaffirmed 8 times by the UN General Assembly by consensus.

Bill C-262 has five key elements:

  • Bill C-262 sets out the principles that must guide implementation of the Declaration, including repudiation of colonialism.
  • Bill C-262 provides clear public affirmation that the standards set out in the UN Declaration have “application in Canadian law.”
  • Bill C-262 requires a collaborative process for the review of federal legislation to ensure consistency with the minimum standards set out in the UN Declaration.
  • Bill C-262 requires the federal government to work with Indigenous peoples to develop a national action plan to implement the UN Declaration.
  • Bill C-262 provides transparency and accountability by requiring annual reporting to Parliament on progress made toward implementation of the Declaration.

The Coalition for the Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples

This open letter was signed by:

Amnesty International Canada
Assembly of First Nations
British Columbia Assembly of First Nations
Canadian Friends Service Committee (Quakers)
Centre for Pre-Confederation Treaties and Reconciliation
Confederacy of Treaty No 6
First Nations Summit
Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee)
Indigenous Bar Association
Indigenous World Association
KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives
Métis Nation
The National Aboriginal Circle Against Family Violence
Union of BC Indian Chiefs

Download this open letter in PDF.

Learn more about the human rights of Indigenous Peoples.

May 042016
 

What is the significance of Bill C-262?

“In many ways, Canada waged war against Indigenous peoples through Law, and many of today’s laws reflect that intent. … The full adoption and implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples will not undo the War of Law, but it will begin to address that war’s legacies.” – Senator Murray Sinclair, Truth and Reconciliation Chair, April 2016

 

Bill C-262 would meet the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Call to Action to use the UN Declaration as a framework for reconciliation

March for Reconciliation, Ottawa, June 2015. Photo credit: Rachel Singleton-Polster


 
CFSC is one of 15 partners to issue a statement outlining the critical importance of full implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
 
Public-Statement-Bill-C-262-May-4

 

Download the statement (PDF)

which includes links explaining Bill C-262 and the UN Declaration.

 
Learn more about CFSC’s work in support of the human rights of Indigenous Peoples.
 

May 062019
 
Quaker Concern Spring 2019

The Spring 2019 edition of Quaker Concern is out! FSC’s 8 page print and digital newsletter,

In this issue Keira Mann and Matt Legge discuss CFSC’s new book Are We Done Fighting? Building Understanding in a World of Hate and Division in the cover story CFSC Launches Are We Done Fighting?

Keira Mann describes her experience with a delegation of church leaders who visited Canadian senators to express support for Bill C-262 (An Act to Ensure that the Laws of Canada are in Harmony with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples). Church Delegation Visits Senate to Support Bill C-262

Daisie Auty describes the experience, which at times felt overwhelming, of participating in a two day dialogue about how children are impacted when their parents come into conflict with the law. Why I Stand Up for Respectful Dialogue

And we share some brief highlights from CFSC’s work and recent travels in support of justice and peace.

You can find the current and previous issues of Quaker Concern at https://QuakerConcern.ca, where you can also download them in PDF. All donors to CFSC receive a print copy of Quaker Concern FREE. Donate now to get yours.

May 012019
 
Bill C-262 inforgraphic

OPEN LETTER TO THE SENATE OF CANADA

Indigenous peoples’ organizations participating in the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues urge Canadian Senators to support Bill C-262, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act.

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples sets out minimum standards necessary to combat some of the world’s worst and most pervasive human rights abuses.

Indigenous peoples from all regions of the world worked diligently for more than two decades to reach agreement with states on these minimum standards. With the adoption of the Declaration by the UN General Assembly on September 13, 2007, we entered into an era where the proper question is no longer whether states should uphold these standards – the UN Declaration and at least 10 consensus resolutions from the UN General Assembly confirm that all states are expected to do so. The question now is how to best move forward with full and effective implementation.

In this light, our peoples and organizations are watching with great interest as Bill C-262 progresses through the Canadian Parliament with the prospect of becoming law this year. It is our understanding that the Bill does three things:

  1. It calls on the Government of Canada to engage in a cooperative process with Indigenous peoples to ensure that Canada’s laws live up to and support the minimum standards set in the UN Declaration.
  2. It calls on the Government of Canada to work collaboratively with Indigenous peoples in Canada to create a National Action Plan for implementation, as urged by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in 2017.
  3. It promotes transparency and accountability by requiring regular reporting to Parliament on progress toward implementation.
Bill C-262 inforgraphic

We believe that Bill C-262 represents a positive model for implementation of the human rights of Indigenous Peoples. We urge Canadian Senators to support its passage into law so that the federal government can set a positive example in Canada and also for other states.

This statement was endorsed by the following individuals and organizations:

Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP)

Center for Support of Indigenous Peoples and Civic Diplomacy “Young Karelia”, Russian Federation

Grand Conseil Coutumier des Peuples Amérindiens et Bushinenge, Guyana

Hawai’i Institute for Human Rights

Highlanders Association, Cambodia

Indigenous Peoples Network, Malaysia

International Indian Treaty Council (IITC)

Jeunesse autochtone de Guyane

National Congress of American Indians (NCAI)

Organisation des Nations Autochrones de Guyane francaise

Sami Council

Sami Parliament Norway

Carlos Chex, Experto Indígena, Consultor Independiente, Guatemala

Terri Henry, Independent Expert for North America

Mariam Wallet Aboubakrine, past chair, United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, and Tin hinane Sahel, Mali

Dr. Wilton Littlechild, IPC

Download this open letter in PDF.

Apr 102019
 
Senators jeopardize crucial human rights legislation

New Release

Indigenous peoples’ organizations and human rights groups condemn partisan efforts to prevent debate on bill to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Proposed legislation crucial to reconciliation is being threatened by partisan stalling tactics in the Senate.

Conservative Senators yesterday prevented Bill C-262 being sent to Committee for review.

“This is a shameful moment for Canada,” said Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, Union of BC Indian Chiefs. “It’s profoundly troubling that a crucial opportunity to now move ahead with the urgent work of reconciliation could be jeopardized by Conservative Senators resorting to procedural dirty tricks.”

Passage of Bill C-262 would establish a legislative framework for future governments to work collaboratively with Indigenous peoples to interpret and apply the global human rights standards set out in the 2007 UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission called the Declaration “the framework for reconciliation” and in its Calls to Action urged the federal government to move ahead with implementation.

Senators jeopardize crucial human rights legislation
Canada’s Senate cc-by Scazon

Last year, an overwhelming majority of Members of Parliament voted to adopt Bill C-262.  The Senate was scheduled to conclude second reading of the Bill yesterday, but a vote to move it to Committee for debate was prevented by two procedural motions and a question of privilege which interrupted Senate business and left no time to address Bill C-262.

The use of these kinds of procedural delays is deeply troubling given the small window for legislation to be passed by the Senate before the current session of Parliament ends.

“After more than two decades of deliberation in the United Nations, and more than a decade of political debate in Canada, the opportunity to finally move ahead with concrete, meaningful implementation of the UN Declaration must not be squandered by unprincipled stalling tactics,” said Grand Chief Wilton Littlechild, former Commissioner with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. 

Grand Chief Dr. Abel Bosum, Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee), said, “For almost 40 years, the Crees have played an active role in promoting Indigenous peoples’ human rights at the United Nations. In the UN Declaration, we see the fruition of the efforts of so many Indigenous peoples and states to address some of the most important human rights concerns of our time. It is disturbing, and deeply disappointing that Conservative Senators would now resort to such undemocratic tactics in attempt to prevent Canada moving ahead with much needed implementation of these rights.”

Jennifer Preston of the Canadian Friends Service Committee said, “It’s important to remember that we’re talking about implementation of a global consensus human rights instrument that directly addresses some of the worst, most pervasive, and most persistent human rights violations experienced in Canada. The government of former Prime Minister Stephen Harper eventually came around and publicly supported the Declaration. It’s incredible that the implementation of the Declaration is now being threatened by Conservative Senators who are so opposed to Bill C-262 that they don’t even want it to be debated.”

Our organizations are calling on Conservative leader Andrew Scheer to ensure that Conservative Senators abandon these unprincipled stalling tactics so that consideration of Bill C-262 can proceed.


The Coalition for the Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples (https://www.declarationcoalition.ca)

This statement was endorsed by the following organizations and individuals:

Amnesty International Canada

BC Assembly of First Nations

Canadian Friends Service Committee (Quakers)

First Nations Summit

Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee)

KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives

Mennonite Church Canada Indigenous-Settler Relations

Union of BC Indian Chiefs

Mariam Wallet Med Aboubakrine, Chair, UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, Director, Residential School History and Dialogue Centre, Professor of Law, University of British Columbia

Sheryl Lightfoot, Canada Research Chair of Global Indigenous Rights and Politics, Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, University of British Columbia

Grand Chief Wilton Littlechild, former Commissioner, Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada

For more information on implementation of the UN Declaration, please see our new factsheets at https://www.declarationcoalition.com/more-info/