Federal UNDRIP legislation passed

Bill C-15, An Act respecting the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) received Royal Assent on June 21. This legislation closely parallels British Columbia’s Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People’s Act in establishing a process for alignment of laws with UNDRIP and working towards the objectives of the declaration more broadly.

The legislation begins with a lengthy preamble that provides the context of Canada’s commitment to UNDRIP, historic injustices to Indigenous peoples, and Constitutional protections for human rights, the rule of law and democracy. Other key elements of the legislation include requirements for:

  • Making laws consistent with UNDRIP,
  • Development of an action plan “as soon as practicable, but no later than two years after the day on which this section comes into force.”,
  • Preparation of an annual report that must be tabled in each House of Parliament and permanently referred to the Committee of each House of Parliament responsible for reviewing Indigenous issues.

Each of the major components of the legislation noted above are to be undertaken in consultation and cooperation with Indigenous peoples. The action plan notably must include measures to “address injustices, combat prejudice and eliminate all forms of violence, racism and discrimination, including systemic racism and discrimination”, as well as measures related to monitoring, oversight and accountability.

Unlike BC’s Declaration Act, the federal legislation does not contain provisions for joint decision-making agreements.

UBCM membership has endorsed several resolutions supporting UNDRIP. At the same time, UBCM has consistently called for collaboration and information sharing on initiatives that may impact local government jurisdiction, including via resolution 2019-A4 which seeks “a clear delineation of the responsibilities of local governments in relation to the implementation” of processes related to UNDRIP.

UBCM will monitor the implementation of the legislation and seek opportunities for engagement and to clarify implications of the new legislation for local governments.

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