Canada: Keep your promise to fully uphold the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

"The human rights problems faced by indigenous peoples in Canada…have reached crisis proportions." 
- James Anaya, Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (2008-2014)

Two thirds of First Nations in Canada have had to cope with unsafe drinking water over the past decade, often repeatedly and for long periods of time. The homicide rate for Indigenous women and girls is at least 4.5 times higher than all other women and girls. More than 600 First Nations and Inuit communities are without shelters or emergency housing for women. 58 out of 60 Indigenous languages in Canada are considered "endangered".
That's just a sampling of the current situation. Without action, this crisis will only deepen.

The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples provides a way forward in finally addressing the marginalization and oppression that has caused so much harm to Indigenous peoples. Fully implementing the UN Declaration requires governments to work respectfully with Indigenous peoples and eliminate discrimination in Canada's laws and policies.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has made repeated promises to respect the rights of Indigenous peoples by implementing the UN Declaration, yet we have seen little concrete action to do so. It's crucial that the government now work with Indigenous peoples to develop a comprehensive plan of action to turn these promises into action.

Dear Minister,

I fully support your government’s commitment to implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Implementation of the Declaration in Canadian law and policy would provide a framework for addressing profound injustices toward First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples and help prevent such violations in the future. It would also set a positive example for governments around the world.

Unfortunately, your government continues to make decisions that are contrary to the Declaration and other international standards, such as supporting development projects that don’t have the consent of Indigenous peoples or failing to ensure equitable access to basic government services.

I urge the Government of Canada to demonstrate the sincerity of its commitment to upholding the UN Declaration by:

  • Working with Indigenous peoples to develop a concrete and comprehensive national plan of action for its full implementation.

  • Establishing a timetable of regular reporting to Parliament on progress toward implementation.

  • Seeking expert advice independent of government to ensure that Canada’s international human rights obligations are properly understood and fully upheld in any reform of laws and policies.

  • Making a public commitment that, prior to such reform, the government will strive to interpret and apply current law and policies in a manner consistent with the Declaration.  

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