December 3, 2020
Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami welcomes the introduction of Bill C-15, “An Act respecting the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples,” as a positive and historically significant step forward.
ITK has supported the commitment by the Government of Canada to co-develop legislation with Inuit, First Nations and Metis to implement the UN Declaration, and worked with the federal government to positively influence its development. Federal legislation is necessary to help prevent and end discrimination against Inuit by bringing federal laws and policies into alignment with the interrelated, interdependent, and indivisible rights affirmed by the UN Declaration.
Bill C-15 includes the following key elements:
- Recognition of the UN Declaration as a universal international human rights instrument with application in Canadian law.
- The obligation to take all measures necessary to ensure that the laws of Canada are consistent with the rights affirmed by the UN Declaration.
- The obligation to prepare an action plan within three years in partnership with Indigenous peoples to achieve the objectives of the UN Declaration.
- The obligation to include, as an element of the action plan, measures related to monitoring, oversight, recourse or remedy of the rights affirmed by the UN Declaration, to ensure that they are enforceable.
ITK maintains its position that any federal legislation to implement the UN Declaration must include provisions for recourse and remedy to ensure that our rights are enforceable. Legislation that seeks to implement the UN Declaration in the absence of such enforcement mechanisms is little more than a symbolic gesture that is not aligned with international human rights norms and procedures, and further entrenches discrimination by recasting our human rights as aspirational goals.
Significant work is required to ensure that Bill C-15 advances through the legislative process and achieves Royal Assent as quickly as possible. ITK strongly encourages all Members of Parliament to support Bill C-15 in order to help advance the urgent work of implementing the UN Declaration in Canada and ending discrimination against Inuit and all Indigenous peoples.