The provincial government of British Columbia has said it will, “introduce legislation to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).” UNDRIP is a declaration of both collective and individual rights of Indigenous peoples across the world – rights range from self-determination to self-government to education without discrimination and access to health services. You can read the full document here.
Various groups, including the Assembly of First Nations, First Nations Summit, and the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) have been working alongside the province on what implementation could look like. NDP Premier John Horgan says, “We need to address reconciliation in British Columbia, not just for social justice… but for economic equality for all citizens, Indigenous and non-Indigenous.”
Article 32 outlined in the declaration focuses on Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) with respect to resource development occurring on Indigenous territories – if you have been following our daily news service, the conversation surrounding what FPIC means for Indigenous peoples and resource development companies has dominated news about resource extraction/development of Indigenous lands. Bob Chamberlin, Vice-President of UBCIC says, “I’ve heard many, many First Nation leaders talk about Free, Prior and Informed Consent and there’s no way that we’ll ever arrive at consent from a First Nation within a consultation and accommodation framework.” Chamberlin still has questions about how the province will recognize First Nations jurisdiction and authority. He wants non-Indigenous Canadians to know, “There’s nothing to fear from First Nations having consent in their territories because as leaders of First Nations, we always want to ensure the best situation and availability of resources of our communities’ needs are there.”