Report on Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act released
The B.C. government June 30 released the first annual report on progress for implementing the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act.
The report was developed in consultation and co-operation with Indigenous peoples, including the First Nations Leadership Council.
“B.C. is a leader in Canada in advancing reconciliation, and we remain committed to working together with Indigenous peoples on this important priority,” said Premier John Horgan. “The historic legislation we passed last fall, developed in partnership with Indigenous peoples, provides a path forward for all of us, one that respects Indigenous peoples’ human rights and creates clarity and predictability for everyone who lives in British Columbia.”
The 2019-20 annual report covers the period from when the act came into force on Nov. 28, 2019, until the end of the fiscal year. In these first four months of initial actions under the act, government has actively engaged with First Nations, negotiating partners, modern treaty nations and the First Nations Leadership Council on next steps for consultation and implementation, outlined a Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation media release.
These discussions helped shape the annual report and will continue as work moves ahead to develop an action plan and begin to align provincial laws with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UN Declaration).
The report also highlights some examples of the progress government and Indigenous peoples made together that have built a strong foundation for implementing the act. These include major investments in language revitalization and Indigenous housing on- and off-reserve, and sharing long-term, stable revenues with First Nations.
The government has also updated B.C.’s K-12 curriculum to include Indigenous culture and history in all grades and amended child welfare laws to keep Indigenous children with their families and communities.
A First Nations justice strategy and a poverty reduction strategy contribute to this work, as part of the province’s commitment to implement the UN Declaration, the media release stated.
“B.C. is proud to have been the first province to pass legislation to implement the UN Declaration, developed with unprecedented collaboration with Indigenous peoples,” said Scott Fraser, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation. “As we continue to move forward together to advance reconciliation, our government will do that work in consultation and co-operation with Indigenous peoples every step of the way. We present the first annual report on the act to support transparency and accountability for this work as we build an action plan on the way forward.”
An action plan is required under the act and will include prioritized, tangible activities to implement the objectives of the UN Declaration. It is expected to be complete before the end of the year. The action plan will be informed by continued engagement with Indigenous peoples, as well as existing and previous consultations and agreements, which have laid significant groundwork in collaboration with Indigenous peoples.
The annual report was filed with the clerk of the legislative assembly on June 30, and will be tabled before the legislative assembly next week.
The Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act (Bill 41) was introduced in the B.C. legislature on Oct. 24, 2019, and passed unanimously on Nov. 28, 2019.
The legislation was developed in collaboration with the First Nations Leadership Council at the direction of First Nations chiefs throughout the province. The act creates a framework for reconciliation as called for by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.