Implementation of UNDRIP in Nishnawbe Aski Nation
Can UNDRIP be used as a tool to advance self-determination? To get clean drinking water in communities under a boil water advisory? To get the funding that First Nations in NAN deserve?
These are questions that Nishnawbe Aski Nation is asking right now, and we need your input as we gather your priorities, and send recommendations to the Government of Canada on how the UNDRIP is implemented here in NAN territory.
What is UNDRIP?
You might have heard of the UNDRIP (or the Declaration) and wondered what it is.
As First Nations people, we have certain rights because we are Indigenous to our lands since time immemorial, and we call these rights “Inherent Rights”. We also have rights that we have gained from treaties with governments. We have constitutional and legislative rights such as from the Indian Act, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms or the Canadian Human Rights Act and rights that have been affirmed or clarified through a court case. But we also have internationally recognized human rights as Indigenous peoples such as the rights written in the Declaration.
The UNDRIP is the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, an international document adopted by the United Nations in 2007. Canada became a supporter of the UNDRIP in 2016. There are 46 Articles in the Declaration that cover a broad range of topics to protect and promote Indigenous peoples’ collective and individual rights.
What does the UNDRIP say?
The Declaration says Indigenous peoples are free and equal to all other peoples, they have the right to be free from any kind of discrimination and have the right to self-determination. It also says Indigenous people have the right to improvements in their economic and social conditions, that no relocation shall take place without their consent, and have the right to enjoy the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health. Read the full text of the UNDRIP here.
Why does the UNDRIP matter right now?
The Government of Canada (the federal government) passed a law, the UNDRIP Act, in 2021. Under this law, the government is required take specific actions and meet certain deadlines. One commitment in the law is that the federal government will review and even change legislation to ensure Canadian laws align with the UNDRIP.
For example, does the Non-Insured Health Benefit (NIHB) align with the UNDRIP Article 24 (2) that says “Indigenous individuals have an equal right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health”?
As well, the federal government is required by law to develop an Action Plan by June 21, 2023, on how it will implement the UNDRIP in Canada. It is currently engaging with Indigenous peoples (First Nations, Metis, and Inuit) to identify priority items for the Action Plan. The first draft should be released in Fall 2022, with the final Action Plan released by June 2023.
These actions by Canada will impact First Nations people and communities. It is important for everyone in the NAN First Nation communities to be informed and participate so they can have their say on the Government of Canada’s Action Plan.
How can you participate?
NAN wants to know your thoughts on how the UNDRIP could make life better for you and your community. How can the Declaration be used to promote the rights that were passed down to us from past generations? How can the Declaration be used to respect and protect your rights?
NAN has identified several ways that you can participate:
- Contact the NAN Justice Department to provide your individual feedback.
- Check out the education awareness campaign on NAN’s Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram to learn more about the Declaration or the UNDRIP Act.
- Speak to your leaders to let them know your thoughts about the Declaration or the UNDRIP Act.
A one-day discussion meeting is proposed in September 2022 with the leaders from NAN First Nation communities to tell us their thoughts, raise their concerns, and to ensure their input into the Action Plan.
At the end of the engagement, the NAN Justice Department will gather the information collected and prepare a report to be submitted to the Government of Canada on what the people and communities have identified as their priorities and recommendations towards the Action Plan.
NAN Justice Department Contact Information
Stephen Lee, Justice Policy Analyst
Government of Canada Engagement
The Government of Canada is accepting feedback through an online survey. If you want to complete the survey, it is open until December 31, 2022.
Feedback and comments can also be submitted via email or mail.
UN Declaration Act Implementation Secretariat
Department of Justice Canada
275 Sparks Street
Canada K1A 0H8
More Information and Resources
Full Text of UNDRIP
Full Text of Canada’s United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act (UNDA)
First Annual Report to Parliament of Canada (redo link)
Presentation by the Department of Justice Canada to Nishnawbe Aski Nation
Government of Canada Mandate Letters directing all Ministers to implement the UNDRIP
NAN Contact: NAN Justice Department
Chiefs of Ontario: https://chiefs-of-ontario.org/priorities/justice/
Assembly of First Nations: https://www.afn.ca/implementing-the-united-nations-declaration-on-the-rights-of-indigenous-peoples/
Government of Canada: https://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/declaration/index.html
Province of British Columbia: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/governments/indigenous-people/new-relationship/united-nations-declaration-on-the-rights-of-indigenous-peoples
United Nations: https://www.un.org/development/desa/indigenouspeoples/declaration-on-the-rights-of-indigenous-peoples.html
Timeline: How we Got Here and Next Steps
1977 – Declaration of Nishnawbe-Aski restates NAN’s pre-existing rights (https://www.nan.ca/about/history/)
2007 – UNDRIP adopted by UN, but Canada votes against it (https://www.un.org/development/desa/indigenouspeoples/declaration-on-the-rights-of-indigenous-peoples.html)
2010 – NAN Chiefs-in-Assembly passed two resolutions in 2010 to support UNDRIP
2012 – The Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommends that UNDRIP be fully adopted and implemented (https://www.rcaanc-cirnac.gc.ca/eng/1524502914394/1557512757504)
December 2014 – Member of Parliament Romeo Saganash introduces Bill C-641: An Act to ensure that the laws of Canada are in harmony with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in the Parliament of Canada (https://www.parl.ca/LegisInfo/en/bill/41-2/c-641)
May 2015 – Bill C-641 is defeated in the Parliament of Canada
April 21, 2016 – Member of Parliament Romeo Saganash introduces Bill C-262: An Act to ensure that the laws of Canada are in harmony with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in the Parliament of Canada (https://www.parl.ca/LegisInfo/en/bill/42-1/C-262)
April 22, 2016 – NAN welcomes a Private Member’s Bill by NDP MP Roméo Saganash calling for the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) introduced in the House of Commons.
May 2016 – Canada removes its objections to UNDRIP (https://www.aptnnews.ca/national-news/bennett-undrip-shift-putting-everyone-on-notice/)
September 13, 2017 – On the 10th anniversary of the UNDRIP, NAN calls for the UNDRIP to be implemented in all federal and provincial laws and policies as the UNDRIP reaffirms what our Nations have always claimed – that we did not cede sovereignty and have the right of self-determination.
2019 – The National Inquiry into MMIWG Call for Justice 1.2 (v) called on Canada to comply with and implement UNDRIP (https://www.mmiwg-ffada.ca/final-report/)
March 2019 – Member of Provincial Parliament for the Kiiwetinoong riding Sol Mamakwa introduces Bill 76, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act in the Ontario Legislature (https://www.ola.org/en/legislative-business/bills/parliament-42/session-1/bill-76)
March 6, 2019 – NAN supports the private member’s bill introduced by Kiiwetinoong MPP Sol Mamakwa calling for the Government of Ontario to adopt and implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
September 2019 – Bill C-262 fails to pass in the Senate of Canada. The Bill does not become law.
December 2020 – Bill C-15 The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act introduced, based on previous bills introduced by Romeo Saganash (https://www.afn.ca/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/C-15_FAQ_ENG.pdf)
December 3, 2020 – NAN statement released on proposed Canadian legislation for UNDRIP implementation (https://www.nan.ca/news/nan-statement-on-introduction-of-federal-legislation-on-undrip-implementation/)
June 24, 2021 – The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act receives Royal Assent (https://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/declaration/index.html)
December 2021 – Canada proposes to engage with Indigenous peoples on its Action Plan to implement the UNDRIP Act
April 2022 – NAN is funded to engage with NAN First Nations
June 2022 – NAN Justice Department begins its pre-engagement activities
July 2022 – NAN Justice Department initiates its engagement activity that includes an education awareness campaign
August 2022 – UNDRIP presentation at Keewaywin Conference
September 15, 2022 – Meeting of NAN Chiefs on UNDRIP
Fall 2022 – Government of Canada to release draft Action Plan
June 24, 2023 – Government of Canada must finalize and release its UNDRIP Action Plan (https://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/declaration/engagement/index.html)