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Liberals table bill to implement UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

The UN declaration affirms the rights of Indigenous Peoples to self-determination and also spells out the need for free, prior and informed consent from Indigenous Peoples on anything that infringes on their lands or rights.
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Justice Minister David Lametti arrives for a news conference in Ottawa, Thursday November 26, 2020. The Liberal government is set to introduce long-awaited legislation today to enshrine the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in Canadian law. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

OTTAWA — The Liberal government has introduced long-awaited legislation to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

If passed, Bill C-15 would require the federal government to work with First Nations, Métis and Inuit to do everything needed to ensure Canadian law is in harmony with the rights and principles contained in the UN declaration.

It would also have the federal government create an action plan for those goals as soon as possible and no later than three years after the bill comes into force.

In a technical briefing provided to media on the condition that officials not be named, the Justice Department said the bill includes a framework to create ways to align federal law with the declaration over time, but does not transform the declaration itself into law.

The proposed legislation builds upon a private member's bill from former NDP MP Romeo Saganash, which stalled in the Senate, where Conservative senators argued it could have unintended legal and economic consequences.

The UN declaration affirms the rights of Indigenous Peoples to self-determination and also spells out the need for free, prior and informed consent from Indigenous Peoples on anything that infringes on their lands or rights.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2020.

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This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

The Canadian Press