Legislation to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples becomes law
June 22, 2021 – Ottawa – Department of Justice Canada
The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples affirms the human rights of Indigenous Peoples and provides us all with a roadmap to advance reconciliation. The Government of Canada is committed to working in collaboration with Indigenous Peoples to implement the Declaration in Canada.
Yesterday, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act received Royal Assent and immediately came into force.
Developed with Indigenous Peoples, this Act creates a legislative framework to implement the Declaration in Canada. It requires the Government of Canada, in consultation and collaboration with Indigenous Peoples, to develop an action plan to achieve the Declaration’s objectives and take all measures necessary to align federal laws with the Declaration.
The action plan, which must be developed in collaboration with Indigenous Peoples in two years, will include measures to:
- address injustices, combat prejudice and eliminate all forms of violence, racism and discrimination against Indigenous Peoples
- promote mutual respect and understanding, as well as good relations, including through human rights education
- ensure Canada is held accountable on progress through regular reporting and oversight
This legislation will complement and inform other initiatives underway across Canada with Indigenous partners to close socio-economic gaps, advance reconciliation and renew relationships based on the affirmation of rights, respect, co-operation and partnership.
The next step is for the Government of Canada to continue its collaboration with Indigenous partners, on a distinctions-based approach, to understand their priorities for the action plan and to identify measures to align federal laws with the Declaration over time. Engagement will be broad and inclusive, and include national and regional Indigenous organizations, Indigenous rights holders, modern treaty and self-governing nations, women’s and youth organizations, 2SLGBTQQIA+ Indigenous persons, urban Indigenous people and other Indigenous groups.
Implementing the Declaration responds to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action 43, the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls’ Calls for Justice and supports the Federal Pathway. The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act will be a critical tool in our collective efforts to address the legacies of colonialism, violence, systemic racism and discrimination faced by Indigenous Peoples in Canada.
“Now that Bill C-15 is law we can begin the next chapter in our reconciliation journey together with Indigenous Peoples. The road to this historic moment has been 25 years in the making. We thank the Indigenous leaders who have led these efforts here in Canada and internationally. This law will require the Government of Canada to examine existing laws, policies and practices and to take measures, in consultation and cooperation with Indigenous Peoples, to ensure their consistency with the Declaration. It provides the foundation for transformational change in Canada’s relationships with Indigenous peoples."
— The Honourable David Lametti, P.C., Q.C., M.P., Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
“This is a major milestone in our shared path of reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples. This Act is about finding new and better ways for Canada and all Canadians to move forward in partnership with Indigenous Peoples to put the Declaration into action. It is about ensuring that the rights of Indigenous Peoples are affirmed, respected and upheld, including rights of equality, non-discrimination and self-determination. Through our work to develop the National Action Plan and the Federal Pathway, we heard from Indigenous partners that implementing the Declaration was essential. We look forward to continuing to work together to advance this vital collaborative work to implement the Declaration in Canada and renew the relationship with Indigenous Peoples based on the affirmation of rights, respect, co-operation and partnership.”
— The Honourable Carolyn Bennett, M.D., P.C., M.P., Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations
“This is an important day for First Nations and Canada. The UN Declaration is a powerful tool for protecting and realizing the inherent rights and Treaty rights of First Nations peoples and can be a pathway to reconciliation. Its full implementation will see First Nations rights respected and implemented and is essential to addressing all forms of racism and discrimination in Canada. I urge all levels of government to work together with First Nations and other Indigenous peoples to ensure its full implementation to bring the UN Declaration to life in Canada.”
— National Chief Perry Bellegarde, Assembly of First Nations
“ITK celebrates the passage of this legislation as a step towards bringing federal laws and policies into alignment with the rights affirmed by the UN Declaration, and ending discrimination against Inuit. We look forward to working in collaboration on implementation, including development of an action plan and measures related to monitoring, oversight and ensuring effective enforcement of the legislation.”
— Natan Obed, President of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami
"Today is an important and victorious day for the Métis Nation, the environment, industry and all Canadians. We are looking forward to developing a national action plan in partnership with our federal, First Nations and Inuit partners. The Métis Nation is committed to ensuring the diversity of Métis Nation voices are heard throughout this process. Together, we can move beyond colonialism and towards a future that respects and honours our human rights."
— David Chartrand, Vice-President of the Métis National Council
The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is an international human rights instrument that affirms the minimum standards for the survival, dignity and well-being of Indigenous peoples throughout the world.
The United Nations General Assembly adopted the Declaration in 2007 with support from a vast majority of member states.
The Declaration is the result of almost 25 years of collaboration between UN Member States and Indigenous peoples from around the world. Indigenous leaders from Canada played a significant role in its development, including the drafting and negotiating.
The Declaration includes 46 articles that affirm a broad range of collective and individual Indigenous rights, including rights related to:
- self-determination and self-government
- equality and non-discrimination
- culture, language and identity
- lands, territories and resources
- Indigenous institutions and legal systems, among other rights.
In 2016, the Government of Canada endorsed the Declaration without qualification and committed to its full and effective implementation.
For more information, media may contact:
Office of the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
Department of Justice Canada
Press Secretary and Communications Advisor
Office of the Honourable Carolyn Bennett,
Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations
Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada
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