Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Wilson-Raybould Lays out Vision for UN Indigenous Rights Declaration

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Wilson-Raybould Lays out Vision for UN Indigenous Rights Declaration

Article excerpt

Wilson-Raybould lays out vision for UN declaration


VANCOUVER - Canada must adopt the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in a way that translates into real change for its aboriginal citizens, federal Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould says.

She told an annual gathering of British Columbia cabinet ministers and First Nations leaders on Wednesday that it's important to appreciate why Canada cannot simply incorporate the declaration "word for word" into law.

"The hard and sometimes painful truth is that many of our current realities do not align with the standards of the United Nations declaration, and as such they must be systemically and coherently dismantled," she said.

The declaration spells out minimum standards for the rights of aboriginal people, including a key article that enshrines the right to self-determination and the right to lands, territories and natural resources that they traditionally owned or occupied.

Canada officially removed its objector status to the document in May, almost a decade after it was embraced by the United Nations.

The justice minister faced criticism earlier this summer after telling an Assembly of First Nations meeting that her government would not directly adopt the declaration into law, but would instead consult with aboriginal groups on how to implement each of the 46 articles.

Speaking to a receptive crowd on Wednesday, Wilson-Raybould -- a former B.C. Assembly of First Nations regional chief -- laid out her case for a made-in-Canada approach.

She said the declaration itself says that it can be implemented in many ways, and further, the federal government does not have jurisdiction to unilaterally address all the minimum standards and principles set out in the document.

Every party needs the time to develop practical approaches to issues such as the concept of free, prior and informed consent, she said, adding that when it comes to resource development, land title issues must be addressed.

She also said the implementation must take into account constitutional and legal contexts in Canada and the government must identify which laws, policies and practices need to be amended or introduced. …

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