Jun 242019

A Dark Day for Democracy

The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples has been a priority focus of Canadian Friends Service Committee’s work for decades. We were there in Geneva when it was being negotiated, when it was adopted by the United Nations, when it was championed by the international community (including Canada), when MP Romeo Saganash introduced Bill C-641, and when 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, was introduced, passed by the House of Commons, and discussed by the Senate. And we are sad to say that we are here as Bill C-262 dies on the very cusp of becoming law in Canada. It appears that the Senate will not make time to vote on Bill C-262 before the upcoming election.

Bill C-262 was an opportunity for reconciliation. The discriminatory stalling and political games this Bill was subjected to by a handful of Conservative senators, ensuring that it would not become law, have no place in a well-functioning democracy.

Together with our partners we’ve distributed hundreds of thousands of copies of the UN Declaration.

A few Conservative senators have overstepped their responsibility and have blocked the way toward respect for Indigenous peoples’ human rights. We call on the Senate to do better in the future.

This is a bitter disappointment for so many who’ve worked hard for reconciliation and justice. Despite this setback, Canadian Friends Service Committee will continue to work with our partners toward the full implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Some politicians are already making promises about this legislation being brought back after the election. We will continue to make every effort to work with all political parties to help them understand the importance of the UN Declaration and to counter fear-mongering about it.

Quakers are known for staying grounded and continuing to listen for, and act on, our peace and justice concerns, no matter how long it may take. Our work with Indigenous partners and concerned Canadians to realize the full implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is no exception. We thank our generous supporters for their continued care and enthusiasm. Together we will continue this important work.