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 July 2023.
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:
- Repudiate concepts used to justify European sovereignty over Indigenous lands and peoples such as the Doctrine of Discovery and terra nullius.
- Adopt and implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as the framework for reconciliation.
- Renew or establish Treaty relationships based on principles of mutual recognition, mutual respect, and shared responsibility for maintaining those relationships into the future.
- 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.
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.
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.
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:
- Reaffirmation of the parties' commitment to reconciliation.
- 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.
- Full adoption and implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as the framework for reconciliation.
- 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.
- Enabling those excluded from the Settlement Agreement to sign onto the Covenant of Reconciliation.
- Enabling additional parties to sign onto the Covenant of Reconciliation.
The Government of Canada is working with representatives from the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement All-Parties Table (IRSSA All Parties Table) to advance the development and implementation of the Covenant of Reconciliation. The IRSSA All Parties Table is made up of signatories to the IRSSA. It includes representatives from the Assembly of First Nations, Anglican Church of Canada, Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada (CIRNAC), Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, Jesuits of Canada, Our Lady of Guadalupe Circle, Presbyterian Church of Canada, and United Church of Canada. Justice Canada continues to be involved with the IRSSA All Parties Table in a supporting role.
The IRSSA All Parties Table has finalized a Draft Covenant of Reconciliation which identifies principles for working collaboratively to advance reconciliation. This includes appropriate spiritual language to reflect Indigenous experiences. An Assembly of First Nations, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, and Justice Canada legal review committee reviewed legal considerations of the draft.
- The IRSSA All Parties Table has shared the Draft Covenant of Reconciliation and are seeking input within their organizations and members.
- CIRNAC has started engagement activities including technical briefings supported by Justice Canada and bilateral meetings with organizations and governments with a potential interest in Call to Action 46 and those that were excluded from IRSSA.
- The IRSSA All Parties Table continues to meet to advance the Draft Covenant of Reconciliation and will be working to incorporate feedback received through the engagement processes.
- There is an ongoing commitment to move forward with discussions on how to implement the Covenant and make concrete actions to advance reconciliation.
- CIRNAC will continue to engage with organizations and governments with a potential interest in Call to Action 46 that were not signatories to IRSSA.
- The IRSSA All Parties Table will also work to enable those excluded from IRSSA and additional parties to sign on to the Covenant of Reconciliation.
- The IRSSA All Parties Table will reconvene to discuss feedback on the Draft Covenant of Reconciliation in Summer 2023.
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.
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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