Senate passes bill to implement United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples


Parliament Hill from the Supreme Court. The flag is at half mast for the 215 children found in a grave at the Kamloops residential school.

The Liberal legislation that is supposed to harmonize Canada’s laws with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) has passed Third reading in the Senate.

Bill C-15 cleared the Senate Wednesday with a final tally of 61-10 with nine senators abstaining.

“This is a major step forward for First Nations and for Canada – this is concrete action, this is history in the making,” said Perry Bellegarde, national chief of the Assembly of First Nations. He said the legislation, “can be a pathway to reconciliation, guided by our inherent and Treaty rights.

“Its full implementation will see First Nations rights respected and implemented and is essential to addressing all forms of racism and discrimination in Canada.”

The federal Liberals promised to pass the legislation by the end of this term.

In a joint statement from Justice Minister David Lametti and Crown Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett, the government said UNDRIP will go a long way to addressing issues such as racism in the country.

“The implementation of the Declaration through Bill C-15 is part of the government’s commitment to addressing injustices, combating prejudice and eliminating all forms of violence, racism and discrimination, including systemic racism and discrimination, against Indigenous Peoples,” said the joint statement.

“This legislation will require the Government of Canada to examine federal laws, policies, and practices and to take all measures, in consultation and cooperation with Indigenous Peoples, to ensure consistency with the Declaration. It provides the foundation for transformational change in Canada’s relationships with Indigenous Peoples.

The UNDRIP bill got a rough ride in the House of Commons and in the Senate, with Conservatives in both chambers raising concerns about potential negative impacts of the legislation.

Conservative MPs voted against the bill in the Commons, arguing it would give Indigenous people a “veto” over natural resource projects.

Off Parliament Hill the legislation had its promoters and detractors.

Some feel it will give too many rights away to Canada while others said this is long overdue.

With a federal election potentially on the horizon, the bill needed to pass before Parliament rises for the summer next week to keep it from dying on the order paper once again.

Before the last federal election, former NDP MP Romeo Saganash’ private member’s bill stalled in the senate and was not passed.

Bill C-15 will now get Royal Assent before becoming law.

More to come.

With files from the Canadian Press 

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