Our Work We advocate for First Nations rights to self‑determination, lands, territories, resources, culture, and identity.
After decades of advocacy by First Nations, the Parliament of Canada passed The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) Act in 2021, providing a roadmap for the implementation of the UN Declaration based on lasting reconciliation, healing, and cooperative relations. The Assembly’s UNDRIP Advocacy Sector continues to participate in the development of an action plan to ensure enforcement of UNDRIP across Canada.
Initiatives & Priorities The policy areas, initiatives and committees promoting the enforcement of UNDRIP to protect the human rights of First Nations people in Canada.
Reversal of Sex-Based Discrimination in the Indian Act
Since enfranchisement, sex-based barriers to First Nations kinship and citizenship systems have been central to Canada’s discriminatory registration policies. The “second generation cut-off rule” introduced in 1985 was particularly problematic, affecting generations of families.
The McIvor (2009) and the Descheneaux (2015) cases revealed Canada’s complicity in human rights violations against First Nations women and families. Under the most recent S-3 amendments to the Indian Act, the government of Canada estimates 270,000-450,000 new registrants. However, the uptake in registration has been slower than Canada had anticipated.
UNDRIP Article 33 highlights the principle that Indigenous peoples have the right to determine their own identity or membership, structure and processes in accordance with their customs and traditions.
The AFN is mandated through Resolution 30/2017 to call on the Government of Canada to end the practice of legislative assimilation and to provide adequate funding to First Nation governments to establish their own citizenship laws and processes. Support the work of all First Nations who now exercise their jurisdiction over their citizenship and restore their children with their rightful heritage.
Free Border Crossing & Trade
Border crossing rights are founded on pre-contact practices, treaties, and formal promises made in treaty Councils.
First Nations have certain Indigenous and Treaty rights to travel and trade freely across the US-Canada border.
The Assembly of First Nations is directed to ensure that Canada upholds the honour of the Crown by recognizing and respecting First Nations citizens’ rights under the Jay Treaty.
UNDRIP Action Plan
The UN Declaration already has legal effect in Canada.
Bill C-15, An Act respecting the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was passed on December 3, 2020. The UNDRIP Act received Royal Assent June 21, 2021, with a two year time frame to table a co-developed Action Plan and annual report for accountable monitoring.
Resolution 17/2021 guides the AFN’s mandate to support First Nations in the co-development of the Action Plan to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act; effectively aligning all laws, policies, and regulations of Canada to the standards embedded to UNDRIP.
Inherent Right to Self-Government Policy
The Inherent Right to Self-Government Policy (IRSG ) is one of the key federal policies which guide Canada’s approaches to First Nations on self-government agreements. The IRSG is inconsistent with UN Declaration Act (2021) as well as rights embedded in section 35 of the Canadian Constitution.
Since implementation in 1995, the IRSG has become largely defunct, and growingly disfavored as evidenced by British Columbia’s withdrawal of the policy in 2019.
Implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act (the Act) became law and came into force on June 21, 2021. The Department of Justice must work in consultation and cooperation with First Nations to implement the Act. It launched a two phased process to hear priorities (December 2021-December 2022) and to validate the Draft Action Plan (March 2023-June 2023).
This document intends to highlight the many mandates given by the First Nations-In-Assembly that inform the AFN’s work and recommendations in the Department of Justice’s processes developing an Action Plan to achieve the objectives of the Declaration and to ensure Canada’s laws are consistent.
Disclaimer: The contents of this document do not reflect the position of First Nations, or, unless otherwise stated, any individual First Nation, and should therefore not be considered a consultation document.
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Update on Canadian Human Rights Tribunal Decision on the Final Settlement Agreement on Compensation
We advocate for First Nations rights to self‑determination, lands, territories, resources, culture, and identity.After decades of advocacy by First Nations, the Parliament of Canada passed The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) Act in 2021, providing…
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