Canadian governments and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Learn how the Government of Canada is responding to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Calls to Action 43 to 44.

Based on data provided August 2021.

43. We call upon 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.

What's happening?

This call to action speaks to the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. On May 10, 2016, the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs announced that Canada is a full supporter, without qualification, of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The announcement also reaffirmed the Government of Canada's commitment to adopt and implement the declaration in accordance with the Canadian Constitution.

In December 2020, the government introduced legislation Bill C-15, an Act respecting the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, setting out a framework for the implementation of the declaration. The bill was passed by Parliament and received Royal Assent on June 21, 2021. The act provides a roadmap for the federal government and Indigenous peoples to work together to implement the declaration.

The process to develop this legislation included engagement and dialogue with a range of Indigenous groups, organizations and communities, including those representing Indigenous women, girls, youth and 2SLGBTQQIA people to ensure that a diversity of perspectives were reflected. Discussions were also held with provincial and territorial governments and industry partners.

Budget 2021 proposes to provide $31.5 million over 2 years, starting in 2021 to 2022, to support the co-development of an action plan with Indigenous partners to implement this legislation and to achieve the objectives of the declaration. This process will support Indigenous self-determination and enhance nation-to-nation, Inuit-Crown and government-to-government relationships.

Consult Implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in Canada.

44. We call upon the Government of Canada to develop a national action plan, strategies, and other concrete measures to achieve the goals of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

What's happening?

The 2019 and 2020 Speech from the Throne included a commitment to introduce legislation for the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples by the end of 2020. The Minister of Justice was mandated to lead this with the support of the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations.

On June 21, 2021, Bill C-15, an Act respecting the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, received Royal Assent. This act provides a legislative framework for the Government of Canada's implementation of the declaration and requires measures to ensure the consistency of federal laws with the declaration, the development of an action plan to achieve the objectives of the declaration and annual reports on progress.

Recent budget investments

Budget 2021 proposes to provide $31.5 million over 2 years, starting in 2021 to 2022, to support the co-development of an action plan with Indigenous partners to implement this legislation and to achieve the objectives of the declaration. This process will support Indigenous self-determination and enhance nation-to-nation, Inuit-Crown and government-to-government relationships.

Recent progress

During the summer and fall of 2020, Justice Canada led targeted engagement on the development of legislation with support from Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs. Engaging Indigenous partners was critical to the development of the legislation.

On December 3, 2020, the Government of Canada introduced Bill C-15, an Act respecting the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and it received Royal Assent on June 21, 2021. The act affirms the declaration as a universal international human rights instrument with application in Canadian law and provides a framework to advance the Government of Canada's implementation of the declaration, in consultation and cooperation with Indigenous peoples. This legislation represents a fundamental shift in the relationship with Indigenous peoples by recognizing rights articulated through the declaration.

This act provides a pathway for the fulfillment of Calls to Action 43 and 44 at the federal level in consultation and cooperation with Indigenous peoples through the alignment of federal laws, the development of an action plan and the tabling of annual reports on the progress of implementation. Based on discussions with Indigenous partners, 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.

Next steps

The Government of Canada will work in consultation and cooperation with Indigenous peoples, to take all measures necessary to ensure that the laws of Canada are consistent with the declaration, to prepare and implement an action plan to achieve the objectives of the declaration and to prepare annual reports to Parliament on implementation.

As the next step, the Government of Canada will engage with Indigenous partners to understand their priorities for the action plan and to take all measures necessary to align federal laws with the declaration over time.

The action plan requires the inclusion of measures to:

  • address injustices, combat prejudice and eliminate all forms of violence, racism and discrimination against Indigenous peoples
  • promote mutual respect and understanding, as well as good relations, including through human rights education
  • promote accountability through oversight, reporting and monitoring the implementation of the plan

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