Federal bill to implement un declaration “a positive step toward healing the wounds of racism and injustice” says National Chief Perry Bellegarde

Published: Dec 03, 2020News

(Ottawa, ON) – National Chief Perry Bellegarde of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) welcomed the tabling of a federal bill to advance implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

“The bill tabled today contains key elements that the Assembly of First Nations has long sought to ensure that Canada meets its obligations to respect and implement the UN Declaration,” said National Chief Bellegarde. “The UN Declaration is a crucial tool for addressing systemic racism and closing the gap in quality of life between First Nations and Canadians. The new bill provides a much-needed framework to put the Declaration into practice.”

The proposed legislation would require the federal government to work collaboratively with Indigenous peoples to develop a National Action Plan to implement the Declaration, including measures to address prejudice and eliminate all forms of violence and discrimination against Indigenous peoples. The legislation calls for a process to identify laws that need to be reformed in order to meet Canada’s international human rights obligations. The bill would also require regular reporting on the progress made.

In addition, the Bill affirms the fact that the UN Declaration already has legal effect in Canada: it is increasingly being used by courts and tribunals to interpret federal and provincial laws. The preamble to the Bill condemns all racist and colonial doctrines and beliefs.

“Passing federal implementation legislation will be a positive step toward healing the wounds of racism and injustice,” said National Chief Bellegarde.

In its provisions, the new bill is closely modelled on Bill C-262, a private Member’s bill that was passed by the House of Commons in 2018.  When Bill C-262 was blocked in the Senate, AFN Chiefs passed a resolution calling for federal legislation that “fully respects the intent of the Declaration, and establishes Bill C- 262 as the floor, rather than the ceiling.”

National Chief Bellegarde said, “The AFN has been given a clear mandate from our Chiefs to advocate for federal legislation that builds on the foundations of Bill C-262 and is every bit as strong as Bill C-262 in its respect for our rights. The bill tabled today meets that test.”

The implementation bill will be closely examined during the upcoming AFN Annual Chiefs Assembly.

The AFN is urging all Parliamentarians to support adoption of a strong implementation framework before the close of this session of Parliament.

The Assembly of First Nations is the national organization representing First Nation peoples in Canada. Follow the AFN on Twitter at @AFN_Updates.

For more information please contact:
Karen Joyner
Communications Officer
Assembly of First Nations
613-292-0857 (cell)
[email protected]