UNDRIP or the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is at the core of bill C-15. The bill says that it is “An Act respecting the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples” – but what does it seek to do?
Bill C-15 says that the purpose of the act is to “affirm the Declaration as a universal international human rights instrument with application in Canadian law” and to provide a framework for the Government of Canada’s implementation of the Declaration.” So essentially, it sounds like they will be taking the framework of the United Nations Declaration and using it as a “human rights instrument” with applications in Canadian law.
This means that Canadians need to understand what is in the United Nations Declaration and the implications it could have on their day-to-day lives.
“Take all measures necessary”
In Bill C-15, under a section titled “Measures for Consistency of Laws and Achieving the Objectives of the Declaration, the bill addresses just how serious it should be taken to ensure that Canada aligns itself with the United Nations declaration.
The bill says “The Government of Canada must, in consultation and cooperation with Indigenous peoples, take all measures necessary to ensure that the laws of Canada are consistent with the Declaration.” What do you mean to take all measures necessary to ensure our laws are consistent with the declaration?
United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP)
There are a few articles contained within the UNDRIP agreement that are so concerning – that even a quick cursory glance through the document draws the reader’s attention. One of the things you can do when researching a document is to simply use the control F function – simply type in your word or phrase of interest and see if it matches something contained in the article or document you’re reading.
In the case of the UNDRIP agreement, I did this simple research method by searching for the word “land” and was staggered at what it drew my attention to.
Article 26 of UNDRIP
Article 26 of UNDRIP says that “Indigenous peoples have the right to the lands, territories and resources which they have traditionally owned, occupied or otherwise used or acquired.” It continues by saying “Indigenous peoples have the right to own, use, develop and control the lands, territories and resources that they possess by reason of traditional ownership or other traditional occupation or use, as well as those which they have otherwise acquired.”
The issue here is that all of Canada was “traditionally owned” by the Indigenous communities across Canada. This would allow Indigenous groups to have the right to own, use, develop and control essentially all of Canada if given the framework within Canadian law – something Bill C-15 seeks to do.
Article 10 of UNDRIP
Another article that caught my attention was article 10 of UNDRIP. It says that “Indigenous peoples shall not be forcibly removed from their lands or territories.” Keep in mind that essentially all of Canada is considered Indigenous land and this can be concerning.
Article 10 continues:
“No relocation shall take place without the free, prior and informed consent of the indigenous peoples concerned and after agreement on just and fair compensation and, where possible, with the option of return.”
The concern here is just how far the government wants to go in aligning Canadian law with United Nations UNDRIP agreement. This agreement would fundamentally change land ownership rights for Canadians – as almost all of Canada’s land is considered traditionally native-owned. This bill would allow Indigenous groups to claim ownership of their “traditionally owned” lands to “own, use, develop and control.”
Remember article 26 of UNDRIP says “Indigenous peoples have the right to the lands, territories and resources which they have traditionally owned, occupied or otherwise used or acquired.” There is a difference between having the ability to own something – and having the right to own something. One implies that it’s God-given, the other is earned.
Canadians need to be aware of what UNDRIP will do – after-all, they want to implement the framework of the agreement into Canadian law. Take the time to read through the document – it may fundamentally change Canada’s future.
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