Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee); Amnesty International Canada; Assembly of First Nations; Canadian Friends Service Committee (Quakers); Chiefs of Ontario; First Nations Summit; Indigenous Rights Centre; Indigenous World Association; KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives; Native Women’s Association of Canada; Québec Native Women/Femmes Autochtones du Québec; Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs
The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is a consensus, universal international instrument. No country in the world formally objects to it. The Declaration applies to all Indigenous peoples in the world.
In the UN Declaration, all States have recognized the “urgent need to respect and promote the inherent rights of indigenous peoples”. In his 2014 Report on Canada, former UN Special Rapporteur James Anaya concluded: “The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which has been endorsed by Canada, provides a common framework within which the issues faced by indigenous peoples in the country can be addressed.”
Thus, it is timely and pressing to consider and adopt Bill C-641 – An Act to ensure that the laws of Canada are in harmony with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Other States are already engaging in productive implementation of the UN Declaration. New Zealand’s Waitangi Tribunal has concluded that the UN Declaration “represents the most important statement of indigenous rights ever formulated.” In 2011, the Australian Human Rights Commission recommended: “All legislation, policies and programs should be reviewed for consistency with the rights affirmed by the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.”
On March 12, 2015, Romeo Saganash moved that his Private Member’s Bill C-641 be read the second time and referred to a committee. While opposition members of Parliament expressed support for Bill C-641, the federal government vigorously opposed it.
This Commentary focuses on the speech in the House of Commons by Mark Strahl, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, who presented the opposition to the Bill. The central objection highlighted is article 19 of the Declaration and “free, prior and informed consent” (FPIC).
Read the Commentary (PDF).
Also see this excellent letter written by the Assembly of First Nations which provides details about the positive impacts Bill C-641 would have on Canada.