Canada’s unions welcome new bill to adopt Indigenous rights framework

Canada’s unions welcome the federal government’s recent announcement and subsequent tabling of a bill to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP), a commitment which was to be fulfilled before the end of the year.

The new bill, Bill C-15, comes four years after former NDP MP Romeo Saganash introduced Bill C-262, a similar private members bill that died in the Senate.

“By introducing Bill C-15, the federal government is taking a long overdue and much needed step on the path toward reconciliation,” said CLC President Hassan Yussuff. “The Bill would require the government to take concrete action to ensure that Canadian laws are consistent with the Declaration.”

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People establishes a framework of global minimum human rights standards for the survival, dignity and well-being of Indigenous peoples. Just as Bill C-262 did before it, the new Bill affirms UNDRIP as a universal international human rights framework with application in Canadian law.

The Bill would require the federal government, in consultation and cooperation with Indigenous peoples, to:

  • Ensure the laws of Canada are consistent with the Declaration;
  • Prepare and implement an action plan to achieve the objectives of UNDRIP, to be completed as soon as practicable, but no later than three years after the day on which this section comes into force; and
  • Prepare and table an annual report on progress on the action plan, and to align the laws of Canada with UNDRIP.

Both the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada and the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls called for the government to fully adopt and implement UNDRIP as the framework for reconciliation and justice for Indigenous peoples, including Indigenous women, girls and two-spirit persons who continue to face the deep brunt of the legacy of colonial violence.

Canada’s unions are calling on the federal government to pass and enact Bill C-15 in a timely fashion and are joining Indigenous leaders and community members in stressing that Indigenous peoples have been waiting far too long for substantive and resolute measures from the federal government when it comes to justice and reconciliation.

“The government must seize this opportunity to make significant and meaningful change in the lives of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit peoples and move forward on the path to true reconciliation,” said CLC Executive Vice-President Larry Rousseau.