After years of refusal by the Conservative government, Canada is preparing to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) — a decision that could herald the beginning of a new era in relations between First Nations and the federal government.
In a mandate letter addressed to Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Carolyn Bennett, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau requested the minister “renew the relationship between Canada and Indigenous Peoples.”
The first item on Bennett’s long list of to-dos is to implement the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, starting first with the implementation of the UN declaration.
Implementing the declaration is a big deal for Canada, one of only four countries to not only abstain from voting on the declaration, but to actually vote against it. (The other three are the U.S., which has signaled its intention to revise its position, and New Zealand and Australia, both of which reversed their positions in 2009.)
The declaration, first adopted by the UN in 2007 after 25 years of consultation and deliberation, is meant to “constitute the minimum standards for the survival, dignity and well-being of the indigenous peoples of the world.”