A private member’s bill is being presented to Parliament on Thursday April 21 by NDP MP Romeo Saganash. The bill calls for a full and comprehensive implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
The first test of the Government’s commitment to establishing a new relationship between Canada and its indigenous peoples came with the first Trudeau budget. In that budget, $8.4 billion has been committed to addressing a wide range of needs in indigenous communities. This was a positive signal.
As important as these financial commitments are, the real test of the commitment to bring about the fundamental and long-lasting change which is required to address the unacceptable living conditions in most Indigenous communities will also require legislative initiatives and measures which give expression to a full and comprehensive implementation of the U.N. Declaration. What is required is a fundamental structural shift and this shift will only occur through special and unique legislation.
A legislative framework for implementing the UN Declaration would affirm its central significance in the process of national reconciliation. Such implementation would highlight the importance of harmonizing federal laws consistent with the UN Declaration. Implementation of the United Nations Declaration was included in the “Call to Action” in the Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Grand Chief Dr. Matthew Coon Come, in support of this bill, stated: “The way forward to achieve a new relationship between Canada and Indigenous peoples and to put our communities on a path of healing and inclusion is not a mystery. The United Nation Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples lays out a framework and a path for redressing the historic injustices suffered by Indigenous peoples, and if implemented properly, can lay the foundation for the elimination of poverty, dispossession and the kinds of intolerable living conditions that produce epidemic suicides among our youth. This bill provides the opportunity to do this and it should be supported wholeheartedly.”