Adopting UN Indigenous rights declaration requires reform of Canada's laws: AFN

The Assembly of First Nations says implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples will require that Canadian laws and policies be reformed.

National Chief Perry Bellegarde says Canada's laws 'rest on the foundations of colonialism and racism'

Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde says implementing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples requires that Canadian laws and policies be reformed. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

The Assembly of First Nations says implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples will require that Canadian laws and policies be reformed.

Canada removed its permanent objector status to the declaration earlier this week. 

Adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2007, the declaration consists of 46 articles that recognize Indigenous Peoples' basic human rights, as well as rights to self-determination, language, equality and land, among others.

"We need the United Nations declaration because so many of the laws and policies affecting the lives of Indigenous Peoples rest on the foundations of colonialism and racism," said National Chief Perry Bellegarde, speaking Thursday at the United Nations in New York City, where he is attending the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

He also offered recommendations on how Canada should implement the declaration, including:

  • Developing a national action plan to implement the declaration that would involve the full co-operation of Indigenous Peoples.
  • Creating a "legislative framework" for harmonizing laws with the declaration.
  • Reforming national laws and policies, especially those that deal with lands and natural resources, to ensure free, prior and informed consent is respected.
  • The UN monitoring the process of implementing the declaration, with Canada providing regular progress reports.

​Bellegarde also said Canada should look to New Democrat MP Romeo Saganash's private member's bill as a possible foundation for the legislative framework. Bill C-262 calls on Canada to harmonize its laws with the declaration, among other things. 

Earlier this week, Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett said Saganash's bill is "very important" but if "we're going to work nation to nation, then it's not something Canada can support without that broad consultation with Indigenous Peoples."

Corrections

  • An earlier version of this story cited Bennett as saying the Liberal government was unlikely to support the bill. She actually said "broad consultation" with Indigenous Peoples was required first.
    May 12, 2016 5:11 PM ET