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An important step in upholding the human rights of Indigenous peoples in Canada

Press Release

From: Department of Justice Canada

June 21, 2023

The implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act (UN Declaration Act) will build a better, more equitable future for both Canada and Indigenous peoples. Together with First Nations, Inuit, and Métis, we are moving forward and honoring nation-to-nation, Inuit-Crown, and government-to-government relationships based on the affirmation of rights, the value of mutual respect and working together as equal parties.

Today, the Honourable David Lametti, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, accompanied by the Honourable Marc Miller, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, and the Honourable Dan Vandal, Minister of Northern Affairs, announced the release of the UN Declaration Act Action Plan, to provide a roadmap for the implementation, and to achieve the objectives of the UN Declaration. The Ministers were joined by First Nations, Inuit and Métis leadership from the Assembly of First Nations, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, and the Métis National Council.

The UN Declaration affirms a range of collective and individual Indigenous rights, which constitute minimum standards, to contribute to the survival, dignity and well-being of Indigenous peoples. The UN Declaration Act, which became law in June 2021, is a lasting and action-oriented framework to advance Canada’s implementation of the UN Declaration, including ensuring that Canada’s laws are consistent with the UN Declaration.

The Action Plan sets out commitments to actions and measures that Canada will take with Indigenous peoples to implement the rights and principles affirmed in the UN Declaration and advance reconciliation in a meaningful, tangible way. The Action Plan includes 181 specific measures to uphold and advance the human rights of Indigenous peoples, address injustices, prejudice, violence, systemic racism and discrimination, and monitor implementation of the Action Plan. It also includes measures to:

  • advance self-determination and self-government
  • advance the honourable implementation of treaties, agreements, and other constructive arrangements
  • ensure meaningful participation by Indigenous peoples in decision-making over lands, territories, resources, and inclusive economic development
  • revitalize Indigenous languages, cultures and legal systems

The Action Plan also includes measures needed to ensure federal laws are consistent with the UN Declaration and for holding Canada accountable for implementation, as well as delivering on other priorities identified during the work together on the Action Plan.

The Government of Canada is committed to fully implementing the Action Plan. It will continue working with Indigenous peoples to prioritize implementation of the measures in the plan to advance transformative change and reconciliation. The Government of Canada will also seek opportunities to engage the provinces and territories, industry and other sectors that are necessary to advance the implementation of the plan.

The Action Plan is a living document, which will continue to evolve. Review and updates undertaken with First Nations, Inuit and Métis governments and representative institutions will ensure its measures reflect the priorities of Indigenous peoples.

The implementation of the Action Plan and of the UN Declaration will contribute to the Government of Canada’s continued efforts to fulfill its obligations to consult and cooperate with Indigenous peoples, combat systemic racism and discrimination, close socio-economic gaps, and advance equity, equality, and prosperity for Indigenous peoples. The Action Plan can also inspire action by all Canadians and levels of governments. The Government of Canada remains steadfast in its commitment to the UN Declaration as a framework for reconciliation through recognizing and advancing Indigenous rights and is committed to this Action Plan inspiring everyone to join Canada, First Nations, Inuit, and Métis in creating a reconciled and brighter future for all.

Quotes

“The UN Declaration outlines the fundamental human rights of Inuit, not aspirational policy goals. We welcome the completion of this action plan, which spells Inuit priorities, to be implemented through the Inuit-Crown Partnership Committee, as well as key measures intended to benefit all Indigenous peoples. The success of the UN Declaration Act in implementing our human rights is contingent on ongoing collaboration. We look forward to beginning the important work of implementing the Action Plan, through a process that will require diligence and political engagement by implicated federal departments.”

– Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami President Natan Obed

“Today’s release by Canada of the Action Plan to advance Métis rights and needs indicates the potential for reconciliation and better days moving forward. While the Action Plan is not perfect, the Métis National Council recognizes the work Canada has done to draft the Action Plan working with Indigenous governments and representative institutions. The Métis National Council looks forward to working with Canada and our Inuit and First Nations partners to ensure meaningful and timely implementation of the commitments made in the Action Plan.”

– Métis National Council President Cassidy Caron

“Today’s introduction of the Action Plan for the implementation of the United Nations Declaration Act is an initial step in a long road towards the realization of a nation-to-nation relationship between Indigenous Peoples and Canada. A successful Action Plan must be premised on the full cooperation of First Nations, inclusive of the recognition of our rights to self-determination, free, prior and informed consent and must be accompanied with necessary funding to ensure First Nations governments have the capacity to engage in the co-development, implementation and oversight of the its implementation.”

– Regional Chief, British Columbia Assembly of First Nations, Chief Terry Teegee

“Modern treaties apply to more than 40% of Canada’s land mass. With the inclusion of Modern treaties in the Action Plan, the government finally understands that a distinctions-based approach must get the distinctions right. This is reconciliation in action.”

– President, Nisga’a Lismis Government, Eva Clayton

“Today is an important milestone in our collective journey towards reconciliation. I want to thank First Nations, Inuit and Métis partners for their leadership and determination. Their priorities and proposals have shaped this roadmap that will ground us, guide us, and hold us accountable in our efforts to protect, promote and uphold the human rights of Indigenous peoples in Canada. Progress has been made, but more work is still needed. We remain committed to advancing the transformational and collaborative work needed to achieve the objectives of the UN Declaration.”

The Honourable David Lametti, P.C., K.C., M.P.
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Quick facts

  • The UN Declaration Act came into force on June 21, 2021. It is the legislative framework for taking action to uphold the human rights of Indigenous peoples and moving forward with reconciliation in a historic, transformational, and action-oriented way.
  • The UN Declaration is the result of almost 25 years of work and collaboration between United Nations Member States and Indigenous peoples from around the world, including Indigenous leaders from Canada, who played a significant role in its development, including drafting and negotiating.
  • As described in the UN Declaration Act, the Government of Canada must fulfill three inter-related legal obligations in consultation and cooperation with Indigenous peoples:
    • Take all measures necessary to ensure the laws of Canada are consistent with the UN Declaration
    • Develop, by June 2023, and implement an action plan to achieve the objectives of the UN Declaration
    • Develop annual reports on progress and submit them to Parliament
  • On June 8, 2023, the Government of Canada introduced legislation proposing the inclusion of a standardized non-derogation clause in the federal Interpretation Act to uphold Section 35 rights. Bill S-13 would contribute to implementing the UN Declaration Act and in ensuring consistency of the laws of Canada with the UN Declaration.

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Contacts

For more information, media may contact:

Diana Ebadi
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
343-574-3446
Diana.Ebadi@justice.gc.ca

Media Relations
Department of Justice Canada
613-957-4207
media@justice.gc.ca

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