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.

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 committed to renewing the relationship with Indigenous peoples, based on the recognition of rights, respect, cooperation and partnership.

On February 14, 2018, the Prime Minister announced that the Government of Canada will fundamentally transform the relationship with Indigenous peoples  by basing the relationship on the recognition and implementation of Indigenous rights. This approach will align with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UN declaration) and advance self-determination. The important work to reset the relationship with Indigenous peoples has already begun.

The following measures have been undertaken since 2015:

  • endorsed the UN 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 new Cabinet Committee on Reconciliation
  • 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

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?

The Government of Canada is committed to working with the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement parties to forge a new type of forward-looking relationship: a covenant of reconciliation. As a start, preliminary discussions were held on implementing Call to Action 46.

In anticipation of working with participants on a covenant toward reconciliation, the Government of Canada is reviewing concepts that have been used to justify European sovereignty.

Furthermore, in 2016, the Government of Canada announced its full support of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, without qualification and committed to its full and effective implementation.

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?

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

In May 2017, at the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, the Government of Canada publically stated: "The Doctrine of Discovery has no place in Canada's relationship with Indigenous peoples." Further, in 2014, the Supreme Court of Canada confirmed the concept of terra nullius never applied in Canada, as confirmed by the Royal Proclamation of 1763.

Working with First Nations, Inuit and Métis partners, the government will consider new federal legislation and policies to formalize the recognition of Indigenous peoples' rights, including the right of self-determination and the inherent right of self-government.

The following measures have been undertaken since 2015:

  • endorsed the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People 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 new Cabinet Committee on Reconciliation
  • 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

Building on these initiatives, the Government of Canada will continue to explore additional ways to address Call to Action 47.

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