Canada to shift position on UN Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples
Indigenous and Northern Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett to make announcement in New York City on Monday
Canada is set to formally announce a shift in its position on the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, CBC has learned, nearly a decade after the powerful statement of rights was first adopted by the UN.
Indigenous and Northern Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett will make the announcement at the upcoming session of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, kicking off Monday at the United Nations in New York City.
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The declaration, enacted by the General Assembly in 2007, recognizes Indigenous people's basic human rights, as well as rights to self-determination, language, equality and land, among others.
More than 140 nations passed the declaration but Canada — which had been involved in drafting it — initially opposed it, along with the U.S., Australia and New Zealand.
The then-Conservative government had concerns about the declaration's wording on provisions addressing lands and resources, as well as an article calling on states to obtain prior informed consent with Indigenous groups before enacting new laws.
Not legally binding
Canada finally officially endorsed the declaration in 2010 but called it an "aspirational document" and noted it was not legally binding.
Shortly after the 2015 federal election, Bennett announced the new Liberal government would implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as part of its effort to rebuild its working relationships with First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples.
As part of her trip to New York, Bennett is leading a delegation that includes leaders from the Assembly of First Nations, Native Women's Association of Canada, Métis National Council, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, as well as elders and youth.
Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould will also attend and will deliver a statement at the opening session of the Permanent Forum on Monday after a video message from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
Wilson-Raybould is a former regional chief of the BC Assembly of First Nations.