(excerpted from Assembly of First Nations’ Chief Perry Bellegarde’s statement – Full statement here)
Indigenous Peoples are calling for the full implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).
“Recognizing Indigenous peoples’ human rights, including the free, prior and informed consent to development on our traditional lands and territories, will lead to greater peace and security for all. FPIC, very simply, is the right to say yes, and the right to say no. It is much more than a process of consultation.”
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) of Canada submitted its Final Report and 94 Calls to Action. The TRC called upon the federal government, among others, to “fully adopt and implement” the UN Declaration as the framework for reconciliation. Prime Minister Trudeau agreed to implement all Calls to Action.
We need the UN Declaration precisely because so many of the laws and policies affecting the lives of Indigenous peoples rest on foundations of colonialism and racism. As the TRC reminded us over and over again, “reconciliation is going to take hard work.”
After decades of non-recognition and denial of rights, Indigenous peoples must be full partners in the reform of state laws and policies. The UN Declaration provides a framework for the law and policy reform needed to ensure justice and achieve reconciliation, harmonious relations and lasting peace.
Member states have repeatedly denied that Indigenous peoples have the right to exercise self-determination with regard to the development of our lands, territories or resources, even when that development threatens our food sources, our cultures, our security, and our survival as distinct peoples. Such actions have threatened the peace.
Former Special Rapporteur Anaya concluded in 2012: “natural resource extraction and development on or near indigenous territories had become one of the foremost concerns of indigenous peoples worldwide, and possibly also the most pervasive source of the challenges to the full exercise of their rights.”
Implementing the UN Declaration as a framework for reconciliation will usher in an era based on justice, recognition of rights, and partnership. It will return us to the relationships entered into by our ancestors, relationships founded on peace, security and prosperity for all in Canada and beyond.
Indigenous peoples are calling for the full adoption and implementation of the UN Declaration by Canada through a legislative framework. The Private Members Bill C–262 tabled by Indigenous member of Parliament Romeo Saganash is a floor for action.
We welcome discussions on how best to build upon the foundation in his Bill to achieve peace, justice, and well-being.
FPIC – Free, prior, and informed consent (FPIC) broadly refers to the rights of indigenous peoples to participate in decisions affecting their lands and resources, especially as related to natural resource development.