Revitalization of Indigenous laws in Shuswap Nation Kamloops a priority for the Government of Canada
August 3, 2021 – Kamloops, British Columbia – Department of Justice Canada
The Government of Canada is committed to walking the shared path of reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, and remains focused on renewing this relationship. This includes protecting Indigenous peoples’ right to self-determination, supporting the revitalization of Indigenous legal systems and traditions, as well as acknowledging the integral role that Indigenous communities and organizations play in the development, use and understanding of Indigenous laws.
Today, the Honourable David Lametti, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, joined by Patrick Weiler, MP for West Vancouver, Sunshine Coast and Sea to Sky Country, and Chief Wayne Christian, Tribal Chief of Shuswap Nation Tribal Council, highlighted the Government of Canada’s support of their project to increase community knowledge and understanding of Indigenous legal traditions. Support for this initiative aligns with the Government of Canada’s response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) Call to Action 50.
The Shuswap Nation Tribal Council’s project is entitled “Revitalizing Secwepemc Law through the Implementation and Advancement of our Indigenous Legal Practices”. The project is being done in partnership with the University of Victoria’s Indigenous Law Research Unit. It will develop training materials to increase community knowledge and understanding of Secwepemc traditional legal principles and is is built on research and supports the implementation of Secwepemc Laws in the Secwepemc Nation. Activities include workshops, training and information sessions to community members about the practical application of Secwepemc legal traditions pertaining to lands, natural resources and citizenship. In addition, the project will create an online database to store, share and increase access to Secwepemc laws.
Call to Action 50 calls upon the federal government to collaborate with Indigenous organizations to fund Indigenous law institutes for the development, use and understanding of Indigenous laws and access to justice in accordance with the unique cultures of Indigenous peoples in Canada. Supporting Call to Action 50 aligns with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which sets out the right of Indigenous peoples to maintain and strengthen their distict legal institutions.
The Department of Justice is providing funding for a total of $500,000 over three fiscal years through its Justice Partnership and Innovation Program. This program supports activities that respond effectively to the changing conditions affecting Canadian justice policy.
“Secwépemc legal traditions are part of and derived from the legal orders which are embedded within the social, political, economic, and spiritual institutions of our people. It is known that traditionally Secwépemc had laws that governed all aspects of the social order. The recognition and practicing of one’s traditional laws is an act of sovereignty and effectively serves as a process of decolonization through the assertion of the aboriginal right to govern oneself. Shuswap Nation Tribal Council has been dedicated to the revitalization of Secwépemc Laws for many years and have been specifically dedicating resources, increasing our skills and capacity, and cultivating the necessary resources to begin the work of revitalizing our laws since 2011. Receiving this grant allows the Nation to move from the research phase towards implementation phase where we can begin to teach, practice, share, and utilize the learnings of our research into on-the-ground practice. Secwépemc law needs to be practiced – it is not enough to simply research it and articulate it within a document. We must be able to demonstrate the ways in which they have practicality in addressing today’s needs if we are to meaningfully breathe life into them once again.”
Kukpi7 Wayne Christian, Wenecwtsin
Tribal Chief, Shuswap Nation Tribal Council
“Our Government will walk the shared path of reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, and remains focused on seeing CTA 50 implemented. I am pleased that the Shuswap Nation Tribal Council’s project that will support the implementation of Secwepemc Laws in the Secwepemc Nation. We are committed to supporting the development, use and understanding of Indigenous laws and access to justice.”
The Honourable David Lametti, P.C., Q.C., M.P.
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
“A key part of the path to reconciliation is recognizing Indigenous peoples’ right to self-determination, revitalizing Indigenous governance practices, and codifying these traditional practices so that they can be reconciled with non-Indigenous systems of governance. This funding will allow the Shuswap Nation Tribal Council to build on a decade of work to revitalize its laws, for the benefit of its people now and in the future. Implementing Call to Action 50 through steps such as this is an important part of recognizing Indigenous peoples’ inherent rights and promoting greater access to the justice system.”
MP for West Vancouver, Sunshine Coast and Sea to Sky Country
In Budget 2019, the Government of Canada responded to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action 50 by announcing $10 million over five years in support of Indigenous law initiatives across Canada.
To strengthen community-based justice systems and support self-determination, the 2020 Fall Economic Statement also proposed investments to support the development of Administration of Justice Agreements with Indigenous communities.
Through the release of Budget 2021, the Government of Canada announced investments of $18 million over 5 years, and $4 million ongoing to revive the Law Commission of Canada to support, among other things, the work to address systemic barriers in the justice system, including barriers to justice faced by Indigenous peoples.
The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act received Royal Assent and came into force in Canada on June 21, 2021. 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 take all measures necessary to align federal laws with the Declaration, develop an action plan to achieve the Declaration’s objectives and report annually to Parliament on the progress to align laws and the action plan.
For more information, media may contact:
Office of the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
Department of Justice Canada
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