Province Commits to UN Declaration

Premier Horgan announced on September 6 that the Province was committed to adopting the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and to accept and implement the 94 Calls to Action in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) final report.

The announcement was made at a joint press conference with First Nations leaders at the Fourth Annual BC Cabinet-First Nations Leaders’ Gathering. It builds on NDP campaign promises to work towards reconciliation with First Nations in British Columbia. It also represents a move towards addressing UBCM resolution 2015-B106, requesting that the Province undertake a review to determine how they intend to move forward with the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

In making the announcement, the Premier highlighted the government’s strong cross-government commitments to work in partnership with First Nations and Indigenous peoples, as addressed in a requirement in all government ministers’ mandate letters that they review policies, programs and legislation to determine how to implement UNDRIP.

While the announcement was met favourably by representatives of the Assembly of First Nations, the Union of BC Indian Chiefs and the First Nations Summit, others have pointed towards potential concerns arising from UNDRIP being interpreted as giving First Nations veto powers over decision making on crown land and resources. UNDRIP does not explicitly refer to veto powers, but indicates that “States shall consult indigenous peoples in order to obtain their free and informed consent before the approval of any project affecting their lands or territories and other resources”.

Stemming from the 2013 proclamation of a Year of Reconciliation, UBCM supports relationship building between First Nations and local governments. This commitment has been put into action through partnerships with organizations such as Reconciliation Canada, the First Nations Summit and the Provincial Health Services Authority.  UBCM also supports a variety of reconciliation opportunities and resources for local governments interested in moving towards reconciliation.

Those interested in learning more about First Nations relations and opportunities for reconciliation may also be interested in attending Advancing Local Government - First Nations Relations, a Monday pre-convention session scheduled for 1:30-4:30 on September 25. In addition, Reconciliation Canada and the City of Vancouver are hosting a Walk for Reconciliation on Sunday September 24, 2017, to celebrate a shared commitment to transforming and renewing relationships between Indigenous peoples and all Canadians. This event is being held in Vancouver the day prior to the UBCM Convention start, presenting a unique opportunity for interested local government representatives to participate. For more information, visit the Reconciliation Canada website.

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