London, Ontario December 4th, 2020 – Bill C-15 was tabled by Justice Minister David Lametti, on December 3rd, with the claim that the bill would chart a path forward for implementing the rights set out in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP). Despite this claim the government is pushing forward with the aim of doing so under their own interpretation and processes, while ignoring the inherent right of free, prior and informed consent, as well as Nation-to-Nation relationship.
Grand Chief Joel Abram states “At our recent Annual General Assembly AIAI leadership voted to oppose the UNDRIP Act as it’s current state forgoes the original intent of the declaration and instead comes in the form of another White Paper sought by Trudeau’s father. Now the Prime Minister is attempting his own version of the White Paper under the guise of a different interpretation of UNDRIP. What needs to be set in stone right now is that participation is not consultation and the government is treating it as such so they can make the claim they can go ahead because they ‘consulted’ with Indigenous peoples.” Deputy Grand Chief Stacia Loft says “This legislation cannot go forward in it’s current form as it is heavily angled to favour Canadian Government Laws and only addresses Indigenous rights as an after thought. The absence of the term systemic racism in this declaration, ignores the current state and lived experiences of Indigenous people. You cannot rush into the last minute conversations claiming that time is of the essence and then than call it consultation. A reasonable working process needs to be put in place that includes and values Indigenous peoples’ contributions.”
AIAI opposes the UNDRIP Act unless a proper process can be implemented with all Indigenous Nations. While this is a large task, it is a necessary one especially if the government truly believes in reconciliation.