OTTAWA — Today, the NDP’s critic for Intergovernmental Indigenous Affairs, Romeo Saganash (Abitibi-Baie James-Nunavik-Eeyou), tabled legislation to ensure that the laws of Canada respect the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Saganash spent 23 years at the United Nations negotiating the Declaration which was endorsed by Canada in 2010. This is the second time that Saganash has tabled a bill of this nature - the Liberals also voted in favour of it in the previous parliament. The Prime Minister has stipulated that the implementation of the UN Declaration is a priority for his government.

Within the legislative framework of this bill, impacts such as intergenerational trauma, severe impoverishment, epidemics of suicide, impairment of mental and physical health, and profound loss of hope should receive the attention they deserve.

Legislative implementation of the UN Declaration will contribute to ensuring that progress made will not be easily reversed by any future government and implementation of the UN Declaration would explicitly reject colonialism, in favour of justice, equality, respect for human rights and good faith. This bill includes a national action plan as part of the legislative framework as called for by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and will provide clarity and highlight the importance of harmonizing federal laws - something that will facilitate investment and development.

“Right now we’re seeing the unacceptable consequences of governments ignoring the rights of Indigenous Peoples,” said Saganash. “From the underfunding of child welfare, to the lack of mental health supports, to the slow progress of treaty and land claims –these  are the outcomes when Indigenous rights are not respected.” 

According to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Canada must adopt and implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as the framework for reconciliation.