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Indigenous Sovereignty: BC Enshrines UNDRIP into Law (2019)

Scott Fraser, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation; Regional Chief Terry Teegee, BC Assembly of First Nations; Cheryl Casimer, First Nations Summit; Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, Union of BC Indian Chiefs; and Adam Olsen, MLA for Saanich North and the Islands and member of Tsartlip First Nation, have issued the following statement:

“Today, we have made history. British Columbia is the first province in Canada to enshrine the human rights of Indigenous peoples in law. Bill 41, the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples act, passed unanimously on Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2019.

“The legislation establishes the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as the foundational framework for reconciliation in B.C., as called for by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The provincial government developed Bill 41 in collaboration with the First Nations Leadership Council, which was acting on the direction of First Nations leaders throughout the province.

“Any future changes to bring provincial laws into harmony with the UN Declaration will be done in consultation and collaboration with Indigenous peoples, with opportunities for engagement with local governments and stakeholders such as business and industry. Changes won’t happen overnight – this will be a gradual, step-by-step process over time.

“The development of an action plan – in collaboration with Indigenous peoples – with regular reporting to monitor progress will provide a transparent and accountable path forward on reconciliation in B.C."

Joint Statement on B.C. Indigenous Human Rights Legislation Passing Unanimously. Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, 26 Nov. 2019, news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2019IRR0061-002283. Accessed 4 Mar. 2021.

DECLARATION ON THE RIGHTS OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLES ACT [Excerpts]

Purposes of Act

2  The purposes of this Act are as follows:

(a) to affirm the application of the Declaration to the laws of British Columbia;

(b) to contribute to the implementation of the Declaration;

(c) to support the affirmation of, and develop relationships with, Indigenous governing bodies.

Measures to align laws with Declaration

3   In consultation and cooperation with the Indigenous peoples in British Columbia, the government must take all measures necessary to ensure the laws of British Columbia are consistent with the Declaration.

Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act, SBC 2019, c 44