Third annual progress report on the implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act highlights progress and points to where further work is needed

OTTAWA, ON, UNCEDED ALGONQUIN TRADITIONAL TERRITORY, June 20, 2024 /CNW/ – Protecting the human rights of First Nations, Inuit and Métis is essential to creating a fair, inclusive and equitable society where everyone can live with dignity, authenticity, and safety.

On June 18, the Honourable Arif Virani, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, tabled the third annual progress report on the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act (UN Declaration Act). The report tracks federal government progress made to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UN Declaration) in Canada by following our roadmap: the UN Declaration Act Action Plan, released in June 2023.

The perspectives of more than 50 First Nations, Inuit and Métis rights holders and representative organizations and reporting from over 40 federal government departments and agencies form the foundation of this year’s report.

Highlights of progress made on Action Plan measures this year include:  

  • developing an Indigenous Justice Strategy to address systemic discrimination and the overrepresentation of Indigenous people in the criminal justice system (Shared Priorities Measure 28)
  • advancing water and wastewater service transfer to First Nations communities, including through the introduction of Bill C-61, An Act respecting water, source water, drinking water, wastewater and related infrastructure on First Nation lands (First Nations Priorities Measure 17)
  • consulting with Indigenous partners and representative organizations on border-crossing challenges long faced by Indigenous peoples whose traditional territories are divided by colonial borders (Shared Priorities Measure 52)
  • revitalizing Indigenous languages by continuing to implement the Indigenous Languages Act (Shared Priorities Measure 92)
  • ensuring consideration of Aboriginal and Treaty rights in all federal laws (Shared Priorities Measure 2 – non-derogation clause)

This year’s report also identifies key areas for improvement going forward. These include the need for better coordination across the federal government, respectful yet efficient timelines for collaborative work and developing performance measures to better evaluate progress, adequate funding, and clear accountability.

While we have made progress, there is much more work ahead and we recognize the urgency to act and do more. In the year ahead, we look forward to working with Indigenous partners and across all government departments and agencies to accelerate and improve implementation of the UN Declaration Act. 

We all have a role to play in upholding the human rights of First Nations, Inuit and Métis. Together we can build a more inclusive, harmonious and prosperous Canada for all.

Quotes

“Equality and justice are strengthened when we uphold the human rights of Indigenous peoples. Moving forward, we will continue to do the utmost, in consultation and cooperation with First Nations, Inuit and Métis, to ensure that the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the UN Declaration Act and the Action Plan are fully implemented in Canada.”

The Honourable Arif Virani
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

“The UN Declaration Act and the related Action Plan are key parts of the roadmap to reconciliation. They help guide Canada’s collaborative efforts with Indigenous partners to address the harmful legacies of colonization, and build renewed relationships based on a fundamental respect for Indigenous rights. While much remains to be done, I am looking forward to advancing this transformative work together.”

The Honourable Gary Anandasangaree
Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations

“The joint work with Indigenous partners to fully implement the UN Declaration Act and the Action Plan to advance self-determination for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis is critical. The recent signing and the ongoing implementation of the Nunavut Lands and Resources Devolution Agreement is an example of the collaborative efforts to realize the goal of economic, social, and cultural well-being of Nunavummiut through self-determination. Working together based on the affirmation of rights, respect, co-operation and partnership is key to achieving reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples in Canada.”

The Honourable Dan Vandal
Minister of Northern Affairs

“The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples guides our work toward self-determination. From water, to housing, access to medical services and everything in between, it is essential that First Nations, Inuit and Métis lead the way, because communities know best what they need. This Government will always follow the lead of Indigenous partners, because this is the only way we can walk on the path to reconciliation and create a fair future for Indigenous partners.”

The Honourable Patty Hajdu
Minister of Indigenous Services

“The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act has the potential to bring meaningful, positive and lasting change to how Indigenous peoples, communities and businesses participate in sustainable natural resource development. NRCan continues to work with Indigenous partners with a view to achieving a more sustainable, equitable, and economically fair future for the development of natural resources.”

The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson
Minister of Energy and Natural Resources

“We recognize the historic discriminatory government policies that contributed to the erosion of First Nations, Inuit and Métis languages in Canada. Together, we must build a path towards linguistic empowerment. On June 21, we will celebrate the fifth anniversary of the Indigenous Languages Act, which continues to support Indigenous Peoples in reclaiming, revitalizing, maintaining and strengthening their languages.”

The Honourable Pascale St-Onge
Minister of Canadian Heritage

“Everyone in Canada deserves to feel safe in their communities – and that’s the principle that will continue to guide our work, in partnership with our provincial and territorial partners and Indigenous communities across the country.”

The Honourable Dominic LeBlanc
Minister of Public Safety, Democratic Institutions and Intergovernmental Affairs

“First Nations, Inuit and Métis have long called on Canada to address mobility rights across international borders with the United States and Greenland. These borders have impacted families and communities for generations, and impeded their ability to build and maintain connections across their traditional territories. Indigenous mobility rights remain a top priority, and we will continue to consult and collaborate with Indigenous peoples on this front, as part of our commitment to reconciliation.”

The Honourable Marc Miller
Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

“Indigenous partners recognize that the challenges posed by climate change and biodiversity loss are inherently interconnected and demand integrated solutions. Together, we are braiding Indigenous knowledge systems with Western science for on-the-ground conservation, research and monitoring of biodiversity and climate change in Canada. Indigenous-led conservation is one of the most important avenues for achieving Canada’s biodiversity objectives and sustaining long-term conservation, providing a tangible pathway forward towards advancing Reconciliation.”

The Honourable Steven Guilbeault
Minister of Environment and Climate Change

“Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Canadian Coast Guard are committed to advancing reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples and to the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. From coast to coast to coast, we’re committed to advancing Indigenous fishing rights and respecting self-determination; enhancing collaboration and transparency with First Nations, Inuit and Métis governing structures and institutions; supporting Indigenous-led conservation efforts; and integrating Indigenous Knowledge to better manage fisheries, protect marine ecosystems, and ensure safe and accessible waterways for everyone.”

The Honourable Diane Lebouthillier
Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard

“Advancing reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples involves learning from the past and taking steps in the present to support their self-determination and self-governance. This means working together with Indigenous leaders to develop and implement First Nations, Inuit and Métis-led solutions. Today is a reminder of the progress we have made, and the work that remains in upholding the human rights of Indigenous Peoples.”

The Honourable Randy Boissonnault
Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Official Languages of Canada

Quick facts
  • The UN Declaration is an international human rights instrument that sets minimum standards to protect the survival, dignity, and wellbeing of Indigenous peoples.
  • The UN Declaration is the result of almost 25 years of work and collaboration between United Nations Member States and Indigenous peoples from around the world, including Indigenous leaders from Canada, who played a significant role in its development, including drafting and negotiating.
  • The UN Declaration Act came into force on June 21, 2021, providing a framework for taking action to uphold the human rights of Indigenous peoples and move forward with reconciliation in a historic, transformational and action-oriented way.
  • The UN Declaration Act provides an historic opportunity to ensure Canada is a place where the human rights of Indigenous peoples, as affirmed in the UN Declaration, are recognized and respected, upheld and implemented.
  • On June 21, 2023, the UN Declaration Act Action Plan, developed in consultation and cooperation with Indigenous peoples from across Canada, was released. This work is a turning point in ensuring lasting positive change for all.
  • As described in the UN Declaration Act, the Government of Canada must fulfill three inter-related legal obligations in consultation and cooperation with Indigenous peoples:
    • Take all measures necessary to ensure the laws of Canada are consistent with the UN Declaration
    • Develop, by June 2023, and implement an action plan to achieve the objectives of the UN Declaration
    • Develop annual reports on progress and submit them to Parliament
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SOURCE Department of Justice Canada