Royal Proclamation and Covenant of Reconciliation

Learn how the Government of Canada is responding to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Calls to Action 45 to 47.

Based on data provided August 2021.

45. We call upon the Government of Canada, on behalf of all Canadians, to jointly develop with Aboriginal peoples a Royal Proclamation of Reconciliation to be issued by the Crown. The proclamation would build on the Royal Proclamation of 1763 and the Treaty of Niagara of 1764, and reaffirm the nation-to-nation relationship between Aboriginal peoples and the Crown. The proclamation would include, but not be limited to, the following commitments:

  1. Repudiate concepts used to justify European sovereignty over Indigenous lands and peoples such as the Doctrine of Discovery and terra nullius.
  2. Adopt and implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as the framework for reconciliation.
  3. Renew or establish Treaty relationships based on principles of mutual recognition, mutual respect, and shared responsibility for maintaining those relationships into the future.
  4. Reconcile Aboriginal and Crown constitutional and legal orders to ensure that Aboriginal peoples are full partners in Confederation, including the recognition and integration of Indigenous laws and legal traditions in negotiation and implementation processes involving Treaties, land claims, and other constructive agreements.

What's happening?

The Government of Canada is renewing the relationship with Indigenous peoples based on the recognition and implementation of rights, respect, cooperation and partnership.

This approach aligns with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and advances self-determination.

Since 2015, the Government of Canada has:

  • endorsed the declaration and committed to its full implementation
  • established the Working Group of Ministers on the Review of Laws and Policies Related to Indigenous Peoples whose work is now being built upon by the Cabinet Committee on Reconciliation
  • adopted the cabinet directive on the federal approach to modern treaty implementation
  • adopted and released the Principles Respecting the Government of Canada's Relationship with Indigenous Peoples
  • adopted new strategies to pursue negotiation rather than litigation as the preferred path to resolve disputes, including the release of the Directive on Civil Litigation Involving Indigenous Peoples
  • worked with First Nations, Inuit and Métis to co-develop and advance shared priorities, including through the Permanent Bilateral Mechanisms created for this purpose. They are the Government of Canada and First Nations Bilateral Mechanism, the Inuit-Crown Partnership Committee and the Government of Canada and Métis Bilateral Mechanism
  • worked with Indigenous partners to explore new ways to advance the recognition of Indigenous rights and self-determination
  • invested in the Nation Rebuilding Program, which supports Indigenous-led nation rebuilding activities

Recent budget investments

Under the Nation Rebuilding Program, $100 million in funding has been made available for 5 years, starting in 2018 to 2019, to support Indigenous-led approaches to nation rebuilding to advance reconciliation and self-determination.

Budget 2017 invested $13.7 million over 2 years to support permanent bilateral mechanisms between the Government of Canada and the Assembly of First Nations and First Nations, the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and the 4 Inuit Nunangat regions and the Métis National Council and its governing members, respectively. Budget 2018 invested an additional $74.9 million over 5 years.

Recent progress

In December 2020, the government introduced Bill C-15, An Act respecting the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, setting out a framework for federal 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 United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in Canada.

The act repudiates concepts used to justify European sovereignty over Indigenous lands and peoples such as the Doctrine of Discovery and Terra Nullius.

In 2019, the Government of Canada, the province of British Columbia and the First Nations Summit collaboratively developed and released a Recognition and Reconciliation of Rights Policy for Treaty Negotiations in British Columbia. The policy provides guidance for how treaties, agreements and other constructive arrangements are to be negotiated in a manner consistent with the Constitution, the declaration and Indigenous laws and legal orders.

In 2019, the Government of Canada signed self-government agreements for the Métis Nation of Ontario, the Métis Nation Saskatchewan and the Métis Nation of Alberta, affirming its commitment to renewing nation-to-nation relationship, based on recognition of rights, respect, co-operation and partnership.

Since launching the Nation Rebuilding Program in 2018, the Government of Canada has approved over 100 proposals. For example, this funding enabled the Gitxsan Government to build their internal capacity as a nation by supporting the development of their internal governance structure in a manner that aligns with the values and principles of Gitxsan law.

Next steps

The Government of Canada continues to explore ways to address Call to Action 45, in collaboration with Indigenous peoples.

46. We call upon the parties to the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement to develop and sign a Covenant of Reconciliation that would identify principles for working collaboratively to advance reconciliation in Canadian society, and that would include, but not be limited to:

  1. Reaffirmation of the parties' commitment to reconciliation.
  2. Repudiation of concepts used to justify European sovereignty over Indigenous lands and peoples, such as the Doctrine of Discovery and terra nullius, and the reformation of laws, governance structures, and policies within their respective institutions that continue to rely on such concepts.
  3. Full adoption and implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as the framework for reconciliation.
  4. Support for the renewal or establishment of treaty relationships based on principles of mutual recognition, mutual respect, and shared responsibility for maintaining those relationships into the future.
  5. Enabling those excluded from the Settlement Agreement to sign onto the Covenant of Reconciliation.
  6. Enabling additional parties to sign onto the Covenant of Reconciliation.

What's happening?

Justice Canada is currently working with members of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement All-Parties Table (Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, Assembly of First Nations and the Anglican, United, Presbyterian and some representatives of the Catholic Church) in drafting a Covenant of Reconciliation, which is designed to re-set the relationship between the Government of Canada and survivors and other Indigenous partners after the trauma of residential schools.

Recent progress

A subcommittee of the all-parties table has been looking at how to incorporate sacred historical language in the draft covenant, that reflects Indigenous experiences. A smaller legal review committee comprised of Justice Canada, the Assembly of First Nations and Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami are discussing the legal elements of the draft covenant.

In December 2020, the government introduced Bill C-15, an Act respecting the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, setting out a framework for federal 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 United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in Canada.

Next steps

Once the draft covenant is finalized, engagement sessions will be organized with residential school survivor communities and other Indigenous, church and related partners to receive input on the draft.

47. We call upon federal, provincial, territorial, and municipal governments to repudiate concepts used to justify European sovereignty over Indigenous peoples and lands, such as the Doctrine of Discovery and terra nullius, and to reform those laws, government policies, and litigation strategies that continue to rely on such concepts.

What's happening?

This call to action is currently being addressed in Calls to Action 45 and 46, which includes specific language on the Doctrine of Discovery and Terra Nullius. At this stage, focus remains largely on advancing work on Call to Action 46.

In addition, the preamble to the Act respecting the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which came into force on June 21, 2021, rejects all forms of colonialism and notes that doctrines, policies and practices based on or advocating the superiority of peoples or individuals on the basis of national origin or racial, religious, ethnic or cultural differences, including the doctrines of discovery and terra nullius, are racist, scientifically false, legally invalid, morally condemnable and socially unjust.

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