Like BC, the federal government is better at talking about Indigenous rights than it is at actually respecting them.
After years of false starts, the federal government has taken a tentative step towards implementing the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples by introducing Bill C-15.
Is this really a game changer for Indigenous Peoples in Canada? I have my doubts, as do others.
There are two reasons for skepticism.
First, Bill C-15 focuses on high-level, aspirational commitments rather than on delivering concrete, immediate change to Indigenous Peoples.
If passed into law, Bill C-15 will require the federal government to take measures to ensure the laws of Canada are consistent with the declaration, and to prepare and implement an action plan to achieve its objectives. While enacting sweeping changes to federal legislation will undoubtedly take time, the federal government’s focus on these future promises conveniently allows it to sidestep the realities that Indigenous people face on a daily basis.
Governments pour promises on Indigenous people like a winter rain. Rather than witnessing real change, we are too often left with cold disappointment.
Maybe it’ll be different this time. But, if the experience of British Columbia’s UNDRIP legislation is an accurate predictor, we should all dress for more cold rains.
Passed a little over a year ago to great fanfare, the B.C. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act has failed to live up to its promise. Instead, the provincial government has continued with its dreary, self-serving narrative based on the denial of Indigenous rights.
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