FAQ: Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act
What is the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples?
The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UN Declaration) is an international set of standards to uphold the rights of Indigenous peoples. It outlines rights in all areas of life – like human rights, education and health. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission called for the UN Declaration to be used as a framework for moving toward true and lasting reconciliation.
How are the UN Declaration and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action linked?
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada ’s (TRC) Calls to Action are specific to Canada and are focused on addressing the historical and ongoing harms caused by the residential school system.
The TRC called on all governments in Canada to fully adopt and implement the UN Declaration as a framework for reconciliation.
Both the UN Declaration and the Calls to Action focus on improving the rights and well-being of Indigenous peoples, covering areas such as child welfare, education, language and culture, health, social and economic outcomes and justice.
Why did B.C. government adopt the UN Declaration?
Over time, the Declaration Act can help:
- increase the number of Indigenous students who graduate from high school and go on to post-secondary education,
- raise the standard of living and improve the health and well-being of Indigenous families
- recognize Indigenous peoples’ inherent rights, interests and voices, and
- end the epidemic of Indigenous children in government care.
The Declaration Act is helping to create stronger and healthier communities, good jobs and economic growth.
How are you implementing the Declaration Act?
The Declaration Act requires the Province to develop and implement an action plan, in consultation and co-operation with Indigenous peoples, to meet the objectives of the UN Declaration. The government is committed to implementing these human rights in the Province’s institutions, laws, policies and practices to advance reconciliation and address the legacy and harms of colonialism on Indigenous peoples.
The Declaration Act’s action plan will provide a province-wide, whole-of-government roadmap towards reconciliation. It will describe the shared long-term goals and outcomes needed for the provincial government to meet the objectives of the UN Declaration over time, and specific actions that the Province will take in collaboration with Indigenous peoples.
Aligning provincial laws with the UN Declaration will happen over time.
The Province has some early exploratory conversations underway regarding joint decision-making and consent agreements related to section 7 of the Declaration Act.
What progress has been made to implement the Declaration Act?
The Declaration Act requires the Province to create an action plan, in consultation and co-operation with Indigenous peoples, to meet the objectives of the UN Declaration.
The action plan will provide a province-wide, cross-government roadmap to uphold Indigenous rights and advance reconciliation, with specific actions that the Province will take in collaboration with Indigenous peoples.
The action plan is meant to help everyone who lives in British Columbia to understand the importance of reconciliation with Indigenous peoples for B.C. and how it will help the province achieve its greatest social, cultural and economic potential.
A draft of the action plan has been released and we are now inviting First Nations and Indigenous peoples to help shape the provincial government’s work to advance reconciliation and implement the UN Declaration in B.C. over the next five years.
What has the Province accomplished since the Declaration Act became law?
The Province is working with First Nations and Indigenous peoples in new and collaborative ways and building deep and lasting relationships.
New investments in the 2021 provincial budget are making a difference in the lives of Indigenous peoples – through ongoing funding for COVID recovery, affordable housing, childcare, mental health and addictions, culturally safe health care, skills training, and economic development.
The StrongerBC Economic Recovery Plan includes significant funding to advance reconciliation and support Indigenous communities hit hard by the pandemic.
The Province is working with Indigenous peoples to implement a new First Nations Justice Strategy, improve child welfare, make innovative new agreements and combat racism.
Reconciliation is an ongoing commitment to engage as partners in ways that respect the right of Indigenous peoples to determine their own future.
What has the B.C. government done so far to implement the principles of the UN Declaration?
Work to implement the UN Declaration has been underway since 2017. This has included:
- Investing in affordable housing for Indigenous peoples on- and off-reserve.
- Working with Nations to make changes that help keep Indigenous children out of care, and with their families and communities.
- Dedicating $50 million to revitalize Indigenous languages.
- Sharing a stable, long-term source of revenue so First Nations can invest in self-government, cultural revitalization and services that make life better for families.
- Modernizing the environmental assessment process.
- Implementing a new K-12 curriculum that makes sure children in B.C. are taught about Indigenous culture and history.
- Enhancing culturally appropriate mental health and addictions supports for Indigenous peoples, shaped and delivered by Indigenous peoples.
- Reaching reconciliation agreements with First Nations that support self-government, self-determination and economic development.
- Implementing a new First Nations Justice Strategy.
- Combatting racism in the health care system.
Why did the B.C. government pass legislation to implement the Declaration Act?
Implementing the UN Declaration is helping us build a stronger B.C. that includes everyone.
It is about ending discrimination, upholding basic human rights and ensuring more economic justice and fairness.
The Declaration Act was an important step toward true and lasting reconciliation, upholding Indigenous rights and helping create stronger communities, good jobs and economic growth.
What will the Declaration Act accomplish?
B.C is the first jurisdiction in Canada to introduce legislation to implement the UN Declaration – which forms the foundation for the Province’s work towards reconciliation in B.C.
Implementing the UN Declaration in B.C. is about ending discrimination, upholding basic human rights and ensuring more economic justice and fairness.
The development of an action plan and regular reporting to monitor progress provide a transparent and accountable path forward on reconciliation in B.C.
The provincial government and Indigenous peoples can build a robust and sustainable economy by working together, creating economic and social opportunities for Indigenous peoples, all families in B.C., business and industry.
Where can I find more information about the B.C. government’s work with Indigenous people?
Further information on the ministry’s work with Indigenous peoples can be found in other parts of our website. The website also has specific guidelines for proponents who are planning to engage with First Nations communities.
Further specific information on B.C.’s work with Indigenous peoples can be found on individual ministry and agency websites.