United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act

An Act to ensure that the laws of Canada are in harmony with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Sponsor

Romeo Saganash  NDP

Introduced as a private member’s bill. (These don’t often become law.)

Status

Introduced, as of April 21, 2016

Subscribe to a feed (what's a feed?) of speeches and votes in the House related to Bill C-262.

Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment requires the Government of Canada to take all measures necessary to ensure that the laws of Canada are in harmony with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

September 29th, 2017 / 8:45 a.m.
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NDP

Romeo Saganash NDP Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou, QC

One of the things that has been said over and over again throughout these hearings—and we started a couple of days ago in Vancouver—is with respect to the process. Many have argued it's not independent enough and is too adversarial, but however we tweak these policies that are in front of us, they still remain policies, hence the importance of your reference to having a legislative framework.

I'm happy to inform you that Bill C-262 will be debated next September and will provide exactly that legal framework, UNDRIP as the legal framework, for everything we do from here forward. Whether it's policy, legislation, or what have you, these standards will be the minimum standards for this country, so I'd like you to comment on that because—

September 27th, 2017 / 8:50 a.m.
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Grand Chief, Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Inc.

Grand Chief Sheila North Wilson

I'll start.

[Witness speaks in Cree]

I could hear and understand your different dialect, and I was very excited about that, because I was listening very closely. This is another educational moment here: we have different dialects of Cree. All four of us speak Cree, but we all have different dialects, and I have to listen particularly hard to Romeo Saganash.

Thank you for the welcome, and thank you for being here and representing Cree people at this committee.

Your bill, Bill C-262 is necessary because if that's what the governments need to find a way to practicalize the treaties, then let it be. I think that's what it is for a lot of us. If the treaties are too broad, too basic, or too vague, then have a tool like UNDRIP to set the process. I see hope in this. I think we have to fully implement it to start working at these deeper issues that are outstanding, and ultimately bring our people up to a modern day civilization where we're self-reliant. Thank you for that. I do believe that's the avenue we need to follow to take us to that next level.

Back then, we needed a process like that. Our people say that when the treaty-making process was happening, and even recently in the seventies with the MFA, our people weren't in the mindset of negotiating to those specifics, and a lot of it was in good faith. Grand Chief Dumas talks about our kindness all the time, and that's basically what our ancestors were going on. It is the basic human ability to tell the truth, to be kind, and to actually live up to your word. That's what our ancestors relied upon, but now we know how far that's taken us, and that broken relationship needs to be mended. We can't just go on basic human abilities. We have to have something like UNDRIP to take us to the next level.

September 27th, 2017 / 8:50 a.m.
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NDP

Romeo Saganash NDP Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou, QC

Meegwetch.

[Member speaks in Cree ]

I think all of you talked about the policies and about how these policies do not necessarily respond to the challenges that we have, either in treaty implementation or in terms of the other issues that we face as first nations.

I have to tell you first, Nelson, that when you welcomed the grandchildren of the settlers, I did not feel welcome at all.

Sheila, when you talked about broken promises, even if I said to you, “Welcome, to the club,” it would be a bad joke.

I just want to acknowledge those two things first.

I'll ask the question that Gary asked, but from a different perspective.

You all talked about UNDRIP and the importance of having the UN declaration as a framework for moving forward in this country. I think we all agree, and I thank you for your full support for my private member's bill. That's exactly what Bill C-262 intends to do. Whatever we work on in the future, whether it's on treaty implementation or land recognition or rights recognition and so on, those need to be the minimum standards that we will have to use moving forward.

I'll ask my question in the opposite way from how Gary did.

Do we therefore need a policy for all of these things we are discussing today, or would it be simpler to use an instrument like the UN declaration or the jurisprudence that stems from the Supreme Court of Canada?

There are a lot of decisions that respond to a lot of the challenges that we're talking about, so is there a need for a policy? That is perhaps the first question I want to ask all three of you.

Indigenous AffairsOral Questions

September 21st, 2017 / 2:25 p.m.
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NDP

Romeo Saganash NDP Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou, QC

Mr. Speaker, the problem has already been identified, but without a clear plan from the government, its five-year objective will not be met.

Let us not forget that this same Prime Minister, who delivered a speech this morning, continues to fight against first nations children, even after one ruling and three orders handed down by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal.

After two years of fine speeches, it is time to act. Can the government confirm that it will support Bill C-262 on the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples?

Indigenous AffairsOral Questions

June 14th, 2017 / 2:35 p.m.
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NDP

Romeo Saganash NDP Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou, QC

Mr. Speaker, speaking of respect, for two decades the indigenous peoples co-drafted the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. It has been 10 years since its adoption by the UN General Assembly.

Last December, the Prime Minister promised all chiefs, once again, that he remained committed to its adoption and implementation, yet on Monday, the Prime Minister suggested that the declaration would be tantamount to colonial imposition. How can the declaration be imposed on us if we wrote it? Which is it, yes or no, will the government support Bill C-262?

Indian ActGovernment Orders

June 13th, 2017 / 8:50 p.m.
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NDP

Romeo Saganash NDP Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou, QC

Mr. Speaker, one of the things I often mention in this House, and I want to repeat it again. As members of Parliament we have a duty to uphold the rule of law. I mentioned that to the Prime Minister the other day. What does that mean? According to the Supreme Court of Canada, upholding the rule of law means respecting the Constitution. Our Constitution contains the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and section 35 dealing with aboriginal and treaty rights. Therefore, we need to make sure that every time we discuss legislation, it is consistent with the charter and section 35.

We already have that obligation under the Department of Justice Act. Article 4.1 obliges the Minister of Justice to make sure that before any legislation is tabled in this House, it is consistent and compatible with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. We do not have that equivalency for aboriginal and treaty rights yet. That is why Bill C-262 is important for this House as well. Many times when that vetting happens, it is possible that we miss certain legal points. It happened many times under the previous government, and it is bound to happen again here.

I used this example at committee last week. The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal said something important that struck me. It stated that the Department of Indian Affairs continues to do exactly the opposite of what the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs says.

There has always been a problem and a struggle between the front bench here and the departments under which they work, so we are bound to miss a couple of points. However, what is important is to have the proper basis for us to move on, and that is the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Indian ActGovernment Orders

June 13th, 2017 / 8:25 p.m.
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NDP

Romeo Saganash NDP Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou, QC

Mr. Speaker, I was going to say that I am honoured to rise to speak to the Indian Act, but that is not the case. Usually, when I rise in the House, I do it with honour and I consider it a privilege, but that is not the case today.

Earlier, I explained just how deeply opposed I am to this legislation, which has been in place for a very long time and, I would point out, was imposed unilaterally on indigenous peoples across this country. It is a shame that in 2017 we must still rise in the House to talk about something so racist, colonial, and discriminatory as the Indian Act.

We are supposedly one of the most progressive and generous countries on the planet, but the first peoples of this country are subjected to legislation such as the Indian Act. It is really unfortunate. Given the country’s international reputation, this legislation should be done away with as quickly as possible, especially given the promises that this new government made on a number of things, including the new relationship that it wants to establish with indigenous peoples.

The adoption and implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples should now be the basis for any discussion in the House. I would like to point out that this was one of the most significant promises made by several parties, including my own, but also by this government.

Regarding this declaration, let us not forget that two of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s main calls to action are calls to action nos. 43 and 44. Call to action no. 44 calls on the government and its indigenous partners to develop a national action plan to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Call to action no. 43 is also important for us in the House. It calls on the federal, provincial, territorial, and municipal governments to fully adopt and implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as the framework for reconciliation.

That is important. We cannot say that we support all of the Commission’s calls to action except for call no. 43, because it calls on us to fully adopt and implement the declaration.

It is therefore important to remember the context in which we come to this debate on the Indian Act and the status of indigenous people in this country.

Something that has always fascinated me is that the first peoples of this country are the only people in Canada subject to a law in this way. It is mind-boggling how discriminatory this law is, come to think of it. Indigenous peoples and all other peoples on the planet are equal. Like all other peoples, indigenous peoples have the right to self-determination under international law. Article 9 of the declaration recognizes that indigenous peoples have a right to determine who should be members of their communities and nations.

However, this is not the case, and it is unfortunate that in 2017 we still have this racist, discriminatory, and also sexist legislation.

Whenever I talk about the Indian Act, I am almost tempted at times, very seriously, to rise in the House and propose a Caucasian act. Please excuse my use of a typological understanding of human biology when I limit people to racial terms, especially since the term Caucasian describes people from the geographic regions of Turkey, Armenia, and Azerbaijan, and most members in the chamber are from western Europe. Self-identity is not what is important here.

My proposition would be nothing new, as a matter of fact. Five hundred years ago when Caucasian ships began arriving on the shores of this continent, indigenous peoples began devising all sorts of appropriate responses to the invasion. Maybe, at least in the north, invasion is too strong of a word to describe the first contact, but when farmers, entrepreneurs, and business people began to be displaced by foreign investment, when doctors spoke out in alarm of undocumented immigrants bringing high levels of infectious disease onto this continent, and when community leaders began noticing the erosion of the indigenous social fabric, our warriors became our homeland security, and our knowledge keepers became our policy-makers on this continent.

For a while, official policy was to send all Caucasians back to where they came from. I will not lie, that argument still pops up from time to time in discussions with my people, but then mixed marriages, economic interdependence, and the sheer numbers became a reality, and we realized that a more nuanced solution was needed for the Caucasian problem. If I were proposing that act today, I would paraphrase John A. Macdonald and say that the great aim of this legislation is to do away with the European system, and assimilate the Caucasian people in all respects with the other inhabitants of this land as speedily as they are fit to change. I am of course paraphrasing John A. Macdonald.

I can almost hear some of the other members objecting, but will this proposal not deny my fundamental rights contained within the Canadian Constitution and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and violate universal human rights standards? However, I can assure everyone that rights are not important when we consider the creation of a Caucasian act. Power is the most important factor when we consider pieces of legislation designed to control and assimilate one demographic group to the exclusion of all others. Who holds power over the lives of others?

Today, the government has brought to the House Bill S-3, a Senate bill that purports to remove gender discrimination from the Indian Act. The only piece of legislation in this country, I will repeat, that exclusively governs the lives of one demographic group, namely, the indigenous people of this country. When considering this bill, it must be recognized that the colonial system is always about gaining control over another people for the sake of what the colonial power has determined to be the common good.

That is the system that is prescribed by colonial values, priorities, and objectives. Senators, MPs and expert witnesses have repeatedly told the Liberal government that Bill S-3 must go beyond the limited understanding of what legislative review of the Indian Act means, an understanding limited by colonial prescriptions.

In fact, the minister has already told the Senate that her government will reject one of the senators' amendments to the bill, and members heard, as I did, and as all of us did in this House this evening, that is what she repeated tonight.

As the Indian Act is currently written, indigenous men who married non-indigenous women before April 17, 1985, when the act was re-written to comply with the charter of rights, will always pass their Indian status to at least their grandchildren and, in many cases, to their great-grandchildren. This is the case, even if their children and grandchildren parent with non-Indians. However, indigenous women who married non-status men before 1985 only pass on status up to their grandchildren, unless those grandchildren parent with other status Indians.

Senator McPhedran's amendment to Bill S-3 is intended to eliminate any remaining distinctions between the descendants of men and women who married non-Indians before the charter. It would go back to the creation of the Indian Act in the 1800s, while the government wants to stop at those born after the Indian register was created in 1951.

We are left with the question, why is the government refusing to recognize the indigenous identity of potentially hundreds of thousands of people? Remember, self-identity is not seen as important, human rights are not seen as important. What is important is gaining and maintaining power over a subjugated group of people, meaning the indigenous people of this country.

As Dr. Lynn Gehl has explained, “They don't want to end this discrimination. The ultimate goal is to get rid of status Indians and get rid of treaty rights—so much so, that they'll target women and babies.”

I want to quote what Deborah Serafinchon said to our committee when she appeared not too long ago. She said:

I'm not a lawyer, I'm not into any of this, all I know is that I don't understand the different status of 6(1)(a), 6(1), 6(2), whatever it is. Simply, as far as I'm concerned, an Indian is an Indian. I don't understand why there's different levels of status...I'm Indian enough to be discriminated against, but I'm not Indian enough to get status.

Whenever I hear testimony like that, it bothers me a lot, because this legislation has been around for so long. I remember the day after this Prime Minister got elected, and he reiterated a lot of the promises he made to indigenous peoples. I remember the day, across the river, in December 2015 when he spoke before the chiefs at the Assembly of First Nations. One of the promises he made that day in December 2015, before the chiefs at the Assembly of First Nations, was to review and rescind any legislation that was unilaterally imposed on indigenous peoples by previous governments. He used the word governments, not the previous government, but previous governments. It would have been very logical if he started with the Indian Act 20 months ago. Now we are caught with this, and bound by a deadline set by the Quebec Superior Court.

It is also worthwhile to read into the record what Senator Daniel Christmas said with respect to the Indian Act:

The point I'm making is a very stark one: Life under the Indian Act is a horrible and unproductive existence whose ultimate destiny is insolvency and ruin, both economically and emotionally.

A lot of first nations are in the same boat now that Membertou was in the mid-1990s.

Senator Christmas went on:

I recall the awful feeling of seeing people in my community walking with their heads down. Their community was poor and without any prospects, any hope for improvement, for us or for our children.

That is what he said in the Senate. It is important to remind ourselves that those are important considerations that we need to take into account in any revision that we make to the Indian Act, whether it be to status or to any of the other elements that are contained in the earlier Indian Act.

I also want to remind members that the new government has committed to adopting and implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and the minister has repeated that commitment and promise on a couple of occasions since the election.

Article 9 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples reads as follows:

Indigenous peoples and individuals have the right to belong to an indigenous community or nation, in accordance with the traditions and customs of the community or nation concerned. No discrimination of any kind may arise from the exercise of such a right.

I made an earlier point about the UN declaration. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission has recommended that we fully adopt and implement the UN declaration as the framework for reconciliation in this country.

There is a bill before this House, Bill C-262, that would implement the TRC's calls to action 43 and 44. I am hopeful that once that bill is adopted, it will be the framework for any proposed legislation in this country, in this chamber, as we move forward, because although a declaration is not the same as a convention or an international treaty, a declaration does have a legal effect in this country. The Supreme Court has confirmed on a couple of occasions now that declarations do have legal effects. Declarations are “relevant and persuasive sources” to interpret domestic human rights law in this country.

My suggestion here is that the UN declaration already has application in Canadian law. That should be the basis of any legislation that stems from this House from now on, or any policy review that we do as a government in this country. It does have application, and that is what Bill C-262 would confirm as well.

I was going to go into a whole list of the effects of the Indian Act, and it is quite a long list. However, I do want to remind this House that one of the things that is still in the Indian Act—and not too many Canadians know this—is the fact that the minister still has the authority to accept or refuse my will when I pass away. It is still in the Indian Act. That is pretty outrageous. It is only for indigenous peoples.

That is why I say the Indian Act needs to go away. There are enough people in this House to make suggestions as to what to replace it with. I think it is grand time that we do it. It is 2017 in this country called Canada.

Indigenous AffairsOral Questions

May 12th, 2017 / 11:40 a.m.
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NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Mr. Speaker, when it comes the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the Liberals have been anywhere from inconsistent to completely misleading. The Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs committed to adopting UNDRIP, yet her most senior official said that the government “may not consult specifically on UNDRIP”. Meanwhile the Minister of Justice has said that UNDRIP is unworkable, yet yesterday at committee committed to it.

We need a clear answer. Will the Liberals support Bill C-262 to implement UNDRIP, yes or no?

May 4th, 2017 / 10:15 a.m.
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NDP

Romeo Saganash NDP Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou, QC

Since the adoption or patriation of the Constitution Act of 1982, we live in this country in what the Supreme Court calls a “constitutional supremacy”. Since 1982 we have have moved from parliamentary supremacy to constitutional supremacy. The Supreme Court has confirmed over the years that even in your own areas of jurisdiction, federal and provincial, those jurisdictions are not absolute because, among other things, aboriginal rights exist. I think Bill C-262 is one of the ways to move forward on reconciliation in this country.

May 4th, 2017 / 10:10 a.m.
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NDP

Romeo Saganash NDP Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou, QC

Thank you, Madam Chair.

I want to go back to my last question because the answer wasn't clear. In some ways, at least for me, it was disturbing.

One of the problems we encountered when we enshrined section 35 of the Constitution Act in 1982 was that the concept of aboriginal rights was so large and broad that, most of the time, we ended up in court because we couldn't agree on what was contained in section 35. At least with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, it's pretty clear what those rights are. Those rights are fundamental human rights. I don't understand why anybody wouldn't accept them or why anyone would have to engage and consult.

My fundamental human rights are not up for debate. They exist. The UN Declaration confirms that the rights enshrined in the UN Declaration are inherent—they exist because we exist as indigenous peoples. It shouldn't be a problem for any government, especially if the government committed and promised and accepted all of the calls to action made by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

If you read it carefully, under the heading, “Reconciliation” in that report, where it calls for action, there are two calls for action—43 and 44. Number 43 calls on the Government of Canada, the provinces, the territories, and the municipalities to fully adopt and implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as the framework for reconciliation in this country. It's pretty clear and you've accepted that. Why is it such a problem to say yes to a bill proposing to do exactly that? Bill C-262 proposes to implement calls to action 43 and 44.

May 4th, 2017 / 9:50 a.m.
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NDP

Romeo Saganash NDP Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou, QC

Thank you, Madam Chair.

I want to refer to the report produced by Mary Simon. I think it's a pretty good report, with important recommendations with respect to housing in particular. In her concluding remarks she talks about the noteworthy signposts that have happened from the Constitution Act of 1982, Canada's endorsement of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and the commitment of your government to implement the that commissions calls to action. She says in her remarks that “these advances must become both roots and branches in a new Arctic Policy Framework”. I would suggest that these advances must also become the roots and branches of any future policy development of your government, any future legislation of your government, because the rights enshrined in the UN declaration, as you know, are considered to be the minimum standards for the survival, dignity, and well-being of indigenous peoples in this country.

If you are true to your commitment to adopt and implement the UN declaration, I think we need to be clear about it. I asked you this question about a year and a half ago. Maybe you weren't prepared to answer it, so I'll take this opportunity to ask it again a year and a half later. We need to do away with that confusion of not responding clearly to questions about the UN declaration's call for free, prior and informed consent.

I have proposed a legislative framework. It's Bill C-262, which I introduced in April last year. It would provide that legislative framework as recommended by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, as your leader proposed during the last election and recommitted to after being elected. Will your government, yes or no, support Bill C-262?

Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment ActGovernment Orders

April 10th, 2017 / 1:15 p.m.
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NDP

Romeo Saganash NDP Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou, QC

Mr. Speaker, let me start with Bill C-262.

Members may recall that last year the Truth and Reconciliation Commission issued its report, and 94 calls to action. There are two fundamental calls to action that are important in that report, which are calls to action 43 and 44. Both relate to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, as do some 14 other calls to action.

Call to action 43 calls upon the Government of Canada, the provinces, the territories, and the municipalities to fully adopt and implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as the framework for reconciliation in this country. That is why I say that those are the two fundamental and key calls to action. We cannot implement the rest of the 94, if we do not implement call to action 43, because that is the fundamental one.

I overheard the Liberals during the last campaign promising to adopt and implement the UN declaration. Bill C-262 does exactly that. It will implement the promise of the Liberals. I am just trying to help here.

With respect to free, prior and informed consent, I think it is an important concept that is already in our constitutional law. It is already in Canadian law. For many years, many rulings from the Supreme Court of Canada have spoken of the need to obtain consent from indigenous peoples before development takes place. The latest one was the ruling on the Tsilhqot'in case, in which the Supreme Court referred to the concept of consent of indigenous peoples in some 11 paragraphs and referred to the concept of control of lands, territories, and resources in some nine paragraphs. Therefore, the concept of consent is already in Canadian law. My bill, Bill C-262, will just confirm that is already law in this country.

Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment ActGovernment Orders

April 10th, 2017 / 1:15 p.m.
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NDP

Murray Rankin NDP Victoria, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate my colleague, the Indigenous and Northern Affairs critic for the NDP, for his excellent speech, and for connecting the dots between Bill C-17 in Yukon and what is being achieved, and what 40 years of experience with the Cree–Naskapi and the northern Quebec agreement has achieved in terms of certainty there. I was intrigued by the connection that was made and the lessons that have been learned, which the hon. member emphasized.

What I would like to ask the member specifically is in relation to his Bill C-262, which, of course, would address the need to enshrine a review under section 35 of the Constitution for indigenous rights, just as we routinely do for our Charter rights. I would like to ask about the notion of free, prior, and informed consent. Would this bill, which includes the three governments, federal, provincial, and Yukon first nations, on the board of the YESAA statute, achieve the free, prior, and informed consent that is required, since they co-drafted the bill and are on the actual board, for example, in respect of a specific project? In other words, does that pass muster? Would the kind of bill that we have before us today be consistent with the principles of the hon. member's bill on free, prior, and informed consent that will soon be before Parliament?

April 6th, 2017 / 10:35 a.m.
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NDP

Romeo Saganash NDP Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou, QC

Charmaine, I will also tell you that I understand. As I hear you, I understand you. Thank you. Your story affects my heart, and I understand you. It's highly thought of and you are doing well.

I thank you for speaking the Cree language in this setting. Thank you very much for doing so.

[English]

Madam Chair, those were just words of thanks for allowing Charmaine to speak in Cree. It's nice to hear my language here. Although I didn't understand 100%, I got a good 75% of what she said. I think it's an important recognition on the part of the chair and this committee to allow Charmaine to speak in her language, so thank you for that.

I want to go on. Dawn, you spoke about the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and I want to take the opportunity to mention that I do have legislation before the House stating that, as a legislative framework in any future legislation and policy development, we should act in accordance with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which is coming up for debate some time in September, on the 10th anniversary of the adoption of the UN declaration.

I invite your organization to endorse Bill C-262, as many other organizations have, and even many non-indigenous municipalities have, and as the Truth and Reconciliation Commission has called for.

You spoke about jurisdiction. UNDRIP also contains a statement on access to our own resources for our own development, which I guess is part of your mandate to promote economic development for the communities. That framework is important. When a government endorses an instrument like the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, every policy development or legislation should use that as a framework, and I invite the government to do that.

“Reconciliation” is a word that was used by the Supreme Court way before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada was established. Back in 1984, in the Haida Nation case, the Supreme Court talked about reconciliation, and this is what the Supreme Court had to say:

Treaties serve to reconcile pre-existing Aboriginal sovereignty with assumed Crown sovereignty, and to define Aboriginal rights guaranteed by s. 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982.

Those are the words of the Supreme Court of Canada, not mine. Do you agree that should be the basis of our discussion in this country?

February 7th, 2017 / 9:35 a.m.
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Co-Minister of Health, Children and Youth, Métis Nation of Alberta

Sylvia Johnson

The Métis have always been left out and virtually ignored. We have no resources and a lack recognition as indigenous people, other than saying under section 35 that we are part of the three indigenous groups.

But things are improving for us. The Métis Nation of Alberta signed an MOU with the Minister of Indigenous Affairs, Carolyn Bennett, last week. With those kinds of positive things going forward, we are very pleased to be involved, hopefully, with Bill C-262. Of course, we want to be involved. We have recommendations that we want to bring forward. We're also going to put forward our paper. This was a small introduction to us, but with the lack of resources and the lack of recognition we are hoping that our people in the future will have a lot more validation and a lot more things coming their way.

Thank you for that question. It's very important.