Declaration Act a step forward for British Columbia

October 24, 2019

VICTORIA, B.C. - The Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act introduced today marks a historic moment for all of British Columbia, and the B.C. Green Caucus issued the following statement: 

“Reconciliation is the right thing not only for respecting basic human rights; it provides a path forward for British Columbia in a way that brings economic opportunity to all of its citizens,” said B.C. Green MLA Adam Olsen for Saanich-North and the Islands and a member of Tsartlip First Nation. “By recognizing UNDRIP as part of BC’s legal framework it signals that Indigenous people in this province are partners in working together.

“By working together, governments and Indigenous peoples can build a system in which there is a clear, transparent process for consultation and consent. We know the status quo is not working for anyone. Lengthy and onerous legal battles are not good for First Nations or for industry or for communities. We are taking steps to change that approach today by bringing in First Nations from the beginning. By recognizing the inherent rights of Indigenous peoples from the start, and by creating more flexible tools for government to engage with First Nations, the legislation before us today puts BC on a path for a more prosperous future for all of us. 

“Generations upon generations of Indigenous peoples in Canada have fought to see a reversal in discriminatory laws and actions of successive governments. Today, for the first time in our province, we are using the powers of this assembly to take a step towards reconciling that wrong. I raise my hands to those who have come before and fought for recognition and basic decency. 

“The legislation will not solve all conflict in our province tomorrow, but it is my sincere belief and the belief of the B.C. Green Caucus that this puts British Columbia on a path of greater certainty rather than the uncertainty of litigation, of increased collaboration rather than conflict, and of economic prosperity that is fairer for everyone.”  

A commitment to adopting the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in B.C. is a component of the Confidence and Supply Agreement between the B.C. Green Caucus and the BC NDP government. In 2017, every Cabinet minister in the provincial government was tasked with a mandate to implement the UN Declaration and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action.

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