A bill is about to be tabled in the legislature that, if passed, would make British Columbia the first province to legally enact legislation that follows the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
The bill was scheduled to be formally introduced at 10 a.m., following a pledge by Premier John Horgan to enact UNDRIP that goes back to his 2017 election campaign.
According to the B.C. Assembly of First Nations, Indigenous leaders have been invited to view the bill, on the condition of a “non-disclosure agreement” with the province that was in place until the proposed law is tabled in Victoria today.
“Today British Columbia is taking a step towards Reconciliation-the Government of BC will introduce the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act this morning in the legislature,” stated the BCAFN on its Twitter feed.
With an emphasis on basic human well-being and the right to self-determination, the declaration was adopted by the United Nations in 2007, but at the time Canada formally opposed signing on. Under the Trudeau Liberal government, Canada finally endorsed UNDRIP in 2016.
While the declaration stresses a First Nation’s self-government on its own land, it’s yet to be determined how the provincial legislation would impact lingering issues affecting Nuu-chah-nulth communities that have been stalled under federal jurisdiction. The right of five Nuu-chah-nulth nations to catch and sell fish from their territorial waters is still caught up in the courts, as those tied to the Ahousaht et al. case await the result of an appeal on the scope of First Nations to exercise a right upheld by the B.C. Supreme Court in 2009.