AFN National Chief Bellegarde calls on Ottawa to introduce UNDRIP legislation

Bellegarde spoke at the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous issues in New York City.

Jorge Barrera
APTN National News
Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde on Thursday called for Ottawa to implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) through legislation.

Bellegarde spoke at the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in New York City.

His appearance followed an announcement made at the same forum earlier this week by Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett who said the Trudeau government was fully embracing UNDRIP.

Bellegarde called on the federal government to implement UNDRIP through a “legislative framework.”

The AFN’s national chief also referred to a private member’s bill tabled by NDP MP Romeo Saganash that aims to harmonized Canada’s laws with UNDRIP. While Bellegarde didn’t call on the government to support Saganash’s bill, he said it should be “a floor for action” on subsequent legislation from the government.

“Legislative frameworks for implementing (UNDRIP) affirm its central and significance in the process of national reconciliation,” said Bellegarde. “Such implementation would highlight the importance of harmonizing state laws consistent with (UNDRIP).”

Bellegarde also called on the Trudeau government to reform Canada’s regulations and policies governing the approval of resource development projects to conform with the principle of free, prior and informed consent.

“Recognizing Indigenous peoples’ human rights, including free, prior and informed consent to development on our traditional lands and territories, will lead to greater peace and security for all,” said Bellegarde. “(Free prior and informed consent) very simply is the right to say yes and the right to say no. It is much more than a process of consultation.”

Bennett said during a press conference Monday her government would not move on UNDRIP-related legislation without a consultation process with First Nations, Inuit and Metis.

The Trudeau government made a splash this week with its public and political embrace of UNDRIP which was previously endorsed in 2010 by the Harper administration as an “aspirational document.”

UNDRP was adopted in 2007 by 144 countries, but Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the U.S. voted against the document.

Bellegarde’s speech was endorsed by the BC First Nations Summit, the Grand Council of the Crees, the Native Women’s Association of Canada, the BC Assembly of First Nations, the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, the National Association of Friendship Centres, the Indigenous World Association, the Quakers and Amnesty International.

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1 thought on “AFN National Chief Bellegarde calls on Ottawa to introduce UNDRIP legislation

  1. Now that the Liberals have signed on to the international declaration, how will they implement it in Canada?

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