It is expected that Bill C-15, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act1 ("Bill C-15") will receive Royal Assent today on National Indigenous Peoples Day.
Bill C-15 affirms the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples ("UNDRIP") as a universal international human rights instrument with application in Canadian law and requires the Government of Canada to take all measures necessary to ensure that the laws of Canada are consistent with UNDRIP and to prepare and implement an action plan to achieve the objectives of UNDRIP.
UNDRIP is a statement of principles adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2007.2 It is a human rights declaration that elaborates on existing human rights standards and fundamental freedoms as they apply to the specific situation of Indigenous peoples. UNDRIP addresses a broad range of individual and collective Indigenous rights, such as the rights to education, identity, health, employment, culture, language, selfdetermination, and social and cultural development. 3 For more information on UNDRIP and the introduction of Bill C-15, see our article here.
ACTION PLAN AND REPORTING
Bill C-15 requires the federal government, in consultation and cooperation with Indigenous peoples, to take all measures necessary to ensure that the laws of Canada are consistent with UNDRIP.4 As a result, the Minister must, in consultation and cooperation with Indigenous peoples and other federal ministers, prepare and implement an Action Plan to achieve the objectives of UNDRIP.5 The Action Plan must include:
- measures to:
- address injustices, combat prejudice, and eliminate all forms of violence, racism and discrimination, including systemic racism and discrimination, against Indigenous peoples, and
- promote mutual respect, understanding, and good relations, including through human rights education
- measures related to monitoring, oversight, recourse or remedy or other accountability measures with respect to implementation of UNDRIP, and
- measures related to monitoring the implementation of the action plan and reviewing and amending the action plan6.
The Action Plan must be prepared within two years of Bill C-15 coming into force. 7 At the end of each fiscal year, the Minister, in consultation and cooperation with Indigenous peoples, must prepare and table a report on the measures taken to ensure the laws of Canada are consistent with UNDRIP and the measures taken to prepare and implement the Action Plan.8 The report and the Action Plan must be made public.9
FREE, PRIOR AND INFORMED CONSENT
Much of the discussion about Bill C-15 has focused on the concept of free, prior and informed consent ("FPIC") and whether it gives Indigenous peoples a veto over resource development projects. The concept of FPIC appears in several provisions of UNDRIP. For example, Article 32(2) states:
States shall consult and cooperate in good faith with the indigenous peoples concerned through their own representative institutions in order to obtain their free and informed consent prior to the approval of any project affecting their lands or territories and other resources, particularly in connection with the development, utilization or exploitation of mineral, water or other resources.10
1 Bill C-15, An Act respecting the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, 2nd Sess, 43rd Parl, 2020-2021 (as passed by the Senate 16 June 2021) ["Bill C-15"].
2 United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, 13 September 2007, A/RES/61/295 [UNDRIP].
4 Bill C-15, supra note 1, cl 5.
5 Ibid, cl 6(1).
6 Ibid, cl 6(2), (3).
7 Ibid, cl 6(4).
8 Ibid, cl 7.
9 Ibid, cls 6(6), 7(4).
10 UNDRIP, supra note 2, art 32(2).
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