Myths and Misrepresentations Factsheet: The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples & Bill C-262

2018, 6 pp

The federal government and a number of provinces and territories have made significant commitments to uphold the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (“UN Declaration” or “Declaration”). A private members bill before Parliament, Bill C-262, would create a legislative framework requiring the federal government to work collaboratively with Indigenous peoples to fulfil its promise to fully implement the Declaration.

With these important developments, the Declaration has become the subject of a welcome focus of public policy discussion. Unfortunately, opposition by the previous governing party left a legacy of confusion and misinformation about the Declaration and these misrepresentations continue to be repeated.

The Coalition for the Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples is made up of Indigenous Nations, Indigenous peoples’ organizations, human rights groups and individual experts that have been deeply involved with the development of the Declaration or the subsequent ongoing work of its interpretation and application both in Canada and internationally. The Coalition has prepared this document to address some of the myths and misrepresentations that have clouded the debate around the Declaration and Bill C-262.

This is a clear and informative factsheet that provides answers and clarification along the following misrepresentations:

  • 1. 'The UN Declaration is merely aspirational and there is no current obligation for governments in Canada to actually implement it’
  • 2. ‘The UN Declaration leads to Indigenous peoples having rights that other people don’t.’
  • 3. ‘The UN Declaration undermines the careful balancing of rights that has characterized Canadian constitutional tradition.’
  • 4. ‘The UN Declaration’s provisions on free, prior and informed consent would create an absolute veto over resource development projects.’
  • 5. ‘The UN Declaration only requires States to “seek consent” of Indigenous peoples which means States can freely ignore Indigenous peoples who refuse to grant such consent.’
  • 6. ‘The inclusion of the principle of territorial integrity in Article 46 undermines the right of self-determination and other rights in the Declaration.’
  • 7. ‘Implementation of the UN Declaration would undermine existing rights of Indigenous peoples in Canada, including Treaty rights.’
  • 8. ‘Bill C-262 would create confusion and chaos by immediately making all of the UN Declaration Canadian law overnight.’
  • 9. The implications of Bill C-262 need further study.

This factsheet is endorsed by the following:
Amnesty International Canada; Assembly of First Nations; BC Assembly of First Nations; Canadian Friends Service Committee (Quakers); First Nations Summit; Grand Council Of The Crees (Eeyou Istchee)/ Cree Nation Government; Kairos: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives; Native Women’s Association Of Canada; Union of BC Indian Chiefs; Dr. Mariam Wallet Aboubakrine, Expert Member, UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues

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