Montreal — Policy-makers and officials in Canada have an important international instrument to aid them in the pursuit of Indigenous reconciliation: the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), which recognizes the basic human rights of Indigenous people as well as their rights to self-determination. As the standoff over the Coastal GasLink pipeline earlier this year made clear, there is a pressing need to implement the use of such a framework.
In a new publication from the Institute for Research on Public Policy, former Department of Justice senior official Michael Hudson anticipates that UNDRIP implementation will be an important testing ground for Canada’s commitment to a new relationship with Indigenous peoples.
The federal government has promised to table a bill to implement the Declaration before the end of 2020. For Hudson, this “could be a pivot point for Canada’s economy and society — in essence, disruptive innovation [that] may give rise to new, practical tools for sustainable reconciliation, such as innovative forms of governance.”
Some groundwork has been laid in British Columbia, where a new Environmental Assessment Act and legislation to implement UNDRIP reflect important shifts toward greater shared decision-making. Two federal environmental laws adopted in 2019 also represent steps toward implementing the Declaration through greater opportunities for Indigenous partnership in impact assessment processes.
Hudson cautions, however, that “governments should be transparent about the nature and the degree of change needed to strengthen the relationship with Indigenous peoples. Otherwise, new misunderstandings may arise and governments will risk losing public support for their efforts.”
New Tools for Reconciliation: Legislation to Implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples by Michael Hudson can be downloaded from the Institute’s web site (irpp.org).
The Institute for Research on Public Policy is an independent, national, bilingual, not-for-profit organization based in Montreal. To receive updates from the IRPP, please subscribe to our e‑mail list.
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