The Dene Nation has called the federal government’s move to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples “a historic moment for our people.”
The federal government put Bill C-15 forward in front of Parliament, which would have the federal government adopt the recommendations made in UNDRIP.
UNDRIP reaffirms a number of collective and individual rights for Indigenous peoples, including rights to self-determination and self-government, language and culture, and control of lands and resources.
“For too long, the human rights of First Nations people have been discarded by Canada — and our people have suffered immensely because of it,” Dene Nation National Chief Norman Yakeleya, said in a statement.
“It sets us on a path to true reconciliation — one where First Nations are not simply surviving, but are healing, growing, and are carving out a future for the next seven generations,” Yakelaya added. “This is a historic moment for our people.”
UNDRIP was adopted by the UN General Assembly back in 2007, with Canada one of only four countries — along with Australia, New Zealand, and the U.S. — who initially opposed the declaration.
The federal government announced they were a “full supporter, without qualification” of the declaration, back in 2016.
According to a statement from the federal government, if Bill C-15 is passed by Parliament, it “will provide a roadmap for the government and Indigenous peoples to work together to fully implement the Declaration.”
“The implementation of UNDRIP charts out a future for First Nations that puts their dignity at the forefront of the relationship with Canada,” Yakelaya added.
The territorial government recently announced their new legislative protocol, that supports some of the recommendations made in UNDRIP. But Cochrane said the GNWT does not have a timeline for implementing UNDRIP.
Cochrane added Indigenous governments would be leaders in implementing UNDRIP in NWT in the future.