The Framework for Reconciliation: United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People

From Truth to Reconciliation Committee

Press Release

Wednesday, February 13 2019

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) describes both the individual and collective rights of Indigenous peoples around the world. The declaration was adopted by a resolution of the UN General Assembly on September 13, 2007. In 2010, Canada issued a Statement of Support endorsing the principles of UNDRIP, and in 2015, the Prime Minister asked the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs to implement the declaration. In 2016, the Ministry announced that Canada is a full supporter, without qualification, of the declaration. However, although UNDRIP was passed via Bill C-262, it has not passed third reading in the Senate. If it does not pass before June its future is uncertain at best, especially in light of the upcoming Federal election.

As battles over pipelines, LNG, and Site C rage across B.C., it is particularly urgent to resolve the issues raised by UNDRIP. Article 10 of the Declaration states that Indigenous peoples shall not be forcibly removed from their lands or territories. How then can various levels of government justify their collective positions? Article 32 requires states to obtain the free and informed consent of Indigenous peoples prior to the approval of any project affecting their lands, territories, and other resources. Through this lens, the actions of both the federal and provincial governments seem to be on shaky legal footing. How do we understand “free and informed consent”?

On February 20th at the Haven, Craig Benjamin—Amnesty International’s campaigner for the human rights of Indigenous peoples—will explore ongoing questions and issues surrounding Canadian governments’ responsibilities and actions regarding UNDRIP, which the Truth and Reconciliation Commission called the framework for reconciliation. They optimistically stated that UNDRIP represents a positive vision of a new relationship based on respect for rights and concrete action on the urgent priorities of Indigenous peoples.

Has Canada delivered? 

Craig Benjamin coordinates Amnesty’s campaigns in support of the rights of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples in Canada. A non-Indigenous person living in Mi’kmaw territory in Nova Scotia, Craig has worked alongside Indigenous activists from across Canada and around the world.

As part of our group’s commitment to walking the path of reconciliation, the From Truth to Reconciliation Steering Committee recognize and respect the Snuneymuxw people on whose unceded territories we live. In particular, we acknowledge our responsibility to observe protocol, and are grateful to the Elders who have accepted our invitations to be part of our events, and to support us through traditional welcomes and prayers. If you would like to learn more about protocol, perhaps with the goal of beginning your own organization’s path of relationship building, visit https://aboriginal.viu.ca/elders-viu. 

A portion of donations received through the Speakers Series covers costs (including honouraria) of bringing Elders to our events.

This presentation is generously co-sponsored by Amnesty International and Amnesty International Group 79 — Gabriola. 

Advance tickets are $20 at North Road Sports. Also available at the door (space permitting). Financial need should not be a barrier to attending our events. 

To enquire about subsidized tickets please email gabriola.reconciliation@gmail.com.

For more details about the work of the From Truth to Reconciliation Committee or to contact us, visit www.reconciliationgabriola.com. 

We welcome volunteers, input, and financial support.