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New guidance on legislation supports Indigenous rights

Press Release

Oct. 24, 2022

VICTORIA – New guidance for the B.C. government from the Declaration Act Secretariat provides best practices for working with Indigenous Peoples on the development of provincial laws and policies, which advance Indigenous rights.

The Interim Approach to Implement the Requirements of Section 3 of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act (Interim Approach) is a world-leading project released by the Province’s new Indigenous-led Declaration Act Secretariat.

“After 150 years of a colonial approach to law and policy-making, we have, for the first time, guidance for government on how to work co-operatively and consistently with Indigenous Peoples in the law-making process,” said Murray Rankin, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation and Minister Responsible for the Declaration Act Secretariat. “As we approach the third anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act, this is a very important step. It brings together what we have learned through legislative and policy initiatives since 2019 and will help government further transition to an approach that involves working together to meet our reconciliation objective to implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.”

The Interim Approach is the first outcome delivered by the Declaration Act Secretariat, which was formed earlier this year. The secretariat is led by associate deputy minister Jessica Wood/Si Sityaawks, and was created to co-ordinate and assist cross-government actions to ensure provincial laws align with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UN Declaration) as set out in Section 3 of B.C.’s Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act (Declaration Act).

This new approach provides every ministry and sector of government with clear, transparent processes for how they work together with Indigenous Peoples in developing provincial laws, policies and practices, as required under the Declaration Act.

The Interim Approach will help government fulfil its law-making commitments under the Declaration Act, as the Province is committed to approaching policy and legislation development that may affect Indigenous Peoples in a manner that ensures Indigenous Peoples are fully involved partners in the process and government has met the obligation to their seek consent.

This approach directly responds to the UN Declaration, which emphasizes the rights of Indigenous Peoples to influence the outcome of decision-making processes, not only the right to be heard, on matters affecting them.

While the Interim Approach was created by the Declaration Act Secretariat, it was developed in consultation and co-operation with Indigenous leadership, ensuring Indigenous rights are affirmed through this work.

The secretariat may update the Interim Approach periodically to incorporate new information and advice from Indigenous Peoples, as well as developments to implementing the Declaration Act.

Quotes:

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, president, Union of BC Indian Chiefs –

“The interim process is another critical step forward, and we recognize the collective efforts, particularly by the Declaration Secretariat, for co-developing a transparent, system-wide process on how to align provincial laws with the UN Declaration. We cannot underestimate how challenging it is to effect systemic change and we welcome this new process, which identifies clear roles for Indigenous Peoples in alignment of laws and will facilitate implementation of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act.”

Regional Chief Terry Teegee, BC Assembly of First Nations –

“We accept all steps forward as positive and incremental steps. In this vein, we welcome the implementation of the interim legislative process and greater whole-of-government mechanism that the secretariat may represent. These achievements are tangible but also bitter sweet. Our Peoples, all British Columbians expect this government to advance reconciliation not just on paper but in concrete and measurable steps.”

Cheryl Casimer, political executive, First Nations Summit –

“We are pleased to see some concrete direction finally being rolled out across the provincial government on how to work co-operatively with Indigenous Peoples on law development and reform. This is a critical step in our collective work to decolonize Crown processes, and build new ones that respect legal pluralism and the fact that our Nations have inherent jurisdiction and governance authority in our territories. It is also a critical step in creating consistency in how provincial ministries engage with our Nations and organizations and will point us all in the same direction toward our shared objectives in ensuring provincial laws are consistent with the UN Declaration.”

Chief Murphy Abraham, Lake Babine Nation –

“This guidance document will ensure that Indigenous Nations get to participate in overdue law and policy reform. Lake Babine Nation looks forward to providing recommendations and helping the Province shed its colonial past in favour of a legal framework that includes and respects Indigenous governance, rights and cultures.”

Colette Trudeau, CEO, Métis Nation British Columbia –

“Métis Nation British Columbia (MNBC) supports the development of a distinctions-based approach to creating new legislation, which includes MNBC representing the interests of the close to 100,000 self-identified Métis people in British Columbia in order to deliver on the requirements of Section 3 of the Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act. Through the new Interim Approach, MNBC looks forward to greater consultation by British Columbia to create clarity of process for involving Indigenous peoples in policy and legislative development. MNBC also congratulates the provincial government on the formation of the new Declaration Act Secretariat to provide guidance to public servants and support ongoing engagement with Indigenous partners as the process fully reforms.”

Rosalie Yazzie, acting chair, BC First Nations Justice Council –

“On behalf of the BC First Nations Justice Council, we welcome the announcement of the Interim Approach as another step forward in the long journey of reconciliation. For 150 years, law- and policy-making has happened to Indigenous Peoples and had no meaningful role in shaping those laws and policies that affect us. Alongside the Province’s commitment to fully implement the BC First Nations Justice Strategy, we recognize the fundamental importance of the B.C.’s Interim Approach to recognize legal pluralism and accelerate reconciliation in all areas of policy and legislative development. We congratulate the Indigenous-led Declaration Act Secretariat on this accomplishment.”

Quick Facts:

  • Announced in Budget 2022, the Declaration Act Secretariat is an independent office that operates to provide guidance for every ministry across government. It has a budget of $12.05 million over three years.
  • The Declaration Act Secretariat will help ministries to align their laws with the UN Declaration, for examples of this work see the 2021-22 Annual Report on the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act (link below in Learn More).
  • The UN Declaration includes the following articles related to Indigenous rights and legislative development:
    • Article 19: States shall consult and co-operate in good faith with the Indigenous Peoples concerned through their own representative institutions in order to obtain their free, prior and informed consent before adopting and implementing legislative or administrative measures that may affect them.
    • Article 38: States in consultation and co-operation with Indigenous Peoples, shall take the appropriate measures, including legislative measures, to achieve the ends of this Declaration.

Learn More:

To learn more about the Declaration Act and the Declaration Act Secretariat, visit:
https://declaration.gov.bc.ca

View the Interim Approach: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/download/5311E7CE28434979B5BAFAA0945E0ECE

View the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples:
www.un.org/development/desa/indigenouspeoples/wp-content/uploads/sites/19/2018/11/UNDRIP_E_web.pdf

2021-22 Annual Report on the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act, chapter 3: Declaration Act Legislative Requirements (page 6):
https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/governments/indigenous-people/new-relationship/united-nations-declaration-on-the-rights-of-indigenous-peoples/annual-reporting

Contact:

Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation
Media Relations
236 478-0966

IBF5

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