The IBA urges all members of the senate to support bill C-262 – An act to ensure that the laws of Canada are consistent with the United Nations declaration on the rights of indigenous people

OTTAWA, ON – The Indigenous Bar Association (‘IBA’) urges all Members of the Senate to support Bill C-262. The enactment of Bill C-262 would require the Government of Canada to take all measures necessary to ensure that the laws of Canada are consistent with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (‘UN Declaration’ or ‘UNDRIP’). On May 30, 2018, the Bill passed the third reading at the House of Commons and is now before the Senate. The IBA urges members of the Senate to adopt Bill C-262 without qualifications.

The UN Declaration was passed at the UN General Assembly more than a decade ago, yet Canada has not adopted legislation to implement its provisions. The adoption of the UN Declaration would mark a step forward for reconciliation and Indigenous rights. It would also allow Canada to move toward a real nation-to-nation relationship. This view is embodied in The Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action Number 43 which “…call[s] upon federal, provincial, territorial, and municipal governments to fully adopt and implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as the framework for reconciliation” and Call to Action Number 44 which “…call[s] upon the Government of Canada to develop a national action plan, strategies, and other concrete measures to achieve the goals of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.”

At the meeting for the Indigenous and Northern Affairs Committee on May 3, 2018, Law Professor and former Justice Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond appropriately characterized her view of the UN Declaration, which the IBA shares. She stated, “I see UNDRIP, at the most fundamental level, as recognizing Indigenous rights as human rights. I believe that Bill C-262 will assist us to come closer to the point of being able to have genuine reconciliation. It’s extremely positive. I don’t see it as any way disruptive or threatening, knowing what I do about constitutional law, history, and how courts deal with matters. Our Constitution is based on peace, order, and good government. There are specific provisions in UNDRIP itself. All human rights have limits. It is not a radical, disruptive measure to adopt UNDRIP. It’s, in fact, an incredibly helpful tool.” Turpel-Lafond further noted the ways in which the UN Declaration has been used already, such as by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal when dealing with Indigenous children and disparities in funding. At the same meeting, Law Professor John Borrows noted that the adoption of Bill C-262 will ensure both the Canadian Government and Indigenous communities are abiding by the human rights embodied in the UN Declaration.

The Indigenous Bar Association is a national association comprised of Indigenous lawyers (practicing and non-practicing), legal academics and scholars, articling clerks and law students, including graduate and post-graduate law students. We are mandated to promote the advancement of legal and social justice for Indigenous peoples in Canada and the reform of laws and policies affecting Indigenous peoples.

For further information contact Scott Robertson, President of the Indigenous Bar Association at srobertson@indigenousbar.ca