New Zealand delegation at the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. New Zealand endorsed the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in April 2010. (Broddi Sigurðarson photo)

Column: Bill C-262 key to moving forward with First Nations Canadians

The presentation was haunting, and it has informed the work I’ve done in Parliament since.

By Alistair MacGregor

Shortly after I was elected in 2015, I had the great honour of listening to a presentation by the Commissioners of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the body set up to investigate the experience of Indigenous children sent to Indian Residential Schools, expose crimes that had been committed in the schools, and chart a way forward. The presentation was haunting, and it has informed the work I’ve done in Parliament since.

The TRC’s final report offered 94 “calls to action” that offer governments and individual Canadians a path towards reconciliation. One of these recommendations calls on governments to immediately implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which it calls “the framework for reconciliation.”

Signed in 2007, the Declaration codifies Indigenous peoples’ right to preserve and develop their cultural and religious heritage and languages, practice self-determination and make use of traditional lands and resources. It also puts in place strengthened human rights protections and requires governments to seek informed consent from Indigenous peoples when implementing policies that affect them.

Shamefully, Canada was one of only four UN countries to vote against the adoption of the declaration, alongside the U.S., Australia, and New Zealand. Since then, successive Conservative and Liberal governments have paid mostly lip-service to the goals of the declaration, praising its aspirational aims but refusing to lawfully implement its requirements.

Fortunately, that may soon change thanks to a private member’s bill introduced by my NDP colleague Romeo Saganash. Bill C-262 would provide a legislative framework that affirms that the declaration has legal application in Canada, calls for a national action plan to be created in collaboration between the federal government and Indigenous representatives to work on matters of implementation, and calls for a yearly report on how progress is being made.

Bill C-262 has the potential to revolutionize the nation-to-nation relationship between Indigenous peoples and Canada, and it has received wide support from First Nations and Indigenous groups across the country. By passing this bill, we have the opportunity to begin to right the historical wrongs that have been committed against Indigenous peoples in Canada and move forward together in a new relationship based on reconciliation.

I’m proud to support Bill C-262, and it’s critical that it receives the support it requires in the House of Commons in order to become law. I was pleased to hear last week that the Liberal government has committed to supporting this legislation as well. After his election, Prime Minister Trudeau has consistently stated that no relationship is more important to him than that with Indigenous peoples. I’m glad that he’s finally backing up those words with meaningful action, and that means that Canada is on the verge of taking its greatest and most meaningful step towards reconciliation and a new relationship.

Alistair MacGregor is the Member of Parliament for Cowichan-Malahat-Langford.

Just Posted

Business notes: New public art gallery will bring economic benefits to Cowichan Valley

“The Valley will have a precious intellectual and cultural treasure that will enrich us”

Chemainus Theatre offers fall fun with ‘Lumberjacks in Love’

Are you ready for a musical called Lumberjacks in Love? Join the crowd for a fun night out

Roe leads Cowichan contingent at lacrosse Worlds

Defender locks up NLL deal after helping England to fourth

Two RCMP vehicles vandalized in Duncan over long weekend

Local Mounties asking for help in finding culprits

2 guitar trios combine for a powerhouse evening of music at Cowichan Theatre

California and Montreal Guitar Trios are coming together to Duncan for a great show

ELECTION 2019: Have Justin Trudeau’s Liberals really cut middle-class taxes?

Conservative Andrew Scheer vows to cut bottom bracket, NDP’s Jagmeet Singh targets wealth tax

Woman, 24, faces life-altering injuries after being dragged 4 blocks by vehicle in Vancouver

A gofundme account says the woman will have to undergo multiple complex surgeries

Frustration and pride in Canada after a year of legal pot

It’s one year into Canada’s experiment in legal marijuana, and hundreds of legal pot shops have opened

Fatal overdoses down by 33% in B.C., but carfentanil deaths continue to spike

Carfentanil, an illicit drug more powerful than fentanyl, causing more deaths than ever

One person hurt in crash at busy Nanaimo intersection

Minivan, sport utility vehicle collide at old Island Highway, Bowen Road and Norwell Drive

A year after pot legalization in Canada, it’s a slow roll

It’s one year into Canada’s experiment in legal marijuana, and hundreds of legal pot shops have opened

ELECTION 2019: Climate strikes push environment to top of mind for federal leaders

Black Press Media presents a three-part series on three big election issues

Most Read