Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK) was pleased that Parliament passed the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act in 2021 (UNDRIP) and continues to view full and effective implementation of the rights affirmed by the UN Declaration as pivotal for ending and preventing human rights violations experienced by our people. The Act obligates the federal government to develop an action plan “in consultation and cooperation with Indigenous peoples and with other federal ministers” by June 2023 that “achieves the objectives” of the UN Declaration. The Act also obligates the government to “take all measures necessary to ensure that the laws of Canada are consistent with the Declaration.”
In order to ensure that the action plan includes the measures needed to fulfil this obligation, ITK shared the following actions with the federal government in May 2022 for possible inclusion in the action plan. These actions are focused on the legislative and policy measures required to close legislative and policy gaps that contribute to human rights violations experienced by Inuit.
The proposed actions address priorities such as the need for a law supporting the repatriation of Inuit human remains and objects from museums and federal agencies (Article 12), the need to amend Canada’s immigration legislation to support Inuit cross-border mobility and immigration (Article 36), and the need for an independent Indigenous human rights commission and tribunal to enforce implementation of our human rights (Article 2).
Actions are subject to change and at the time of writing, only one has been successfully co-developed with a federal department. These proposals reflect the ambition required to fully and effectively implement the Declaration. They are premised on the fact that the UN Declaration affirms rights that must be implemented and enforced and reject the discriminatory interpretations that cast them as merely political rights, principles or aspirations. Therefore, we expect the action plan to reflect concrete commitments by the government to enact the changes to Canadian law and policy that are required to align Canada’s laws with the UN Declaration as well as to achieve its objectives.