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Whether or not or not you assist Invoice C-15, Canada passing it could be an vital time in our historical past


This Opinion piece was written by Andre Bear, the previous youth consultant of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations and co-chair of the Meeting First Nations Nationwide Youth Council.

For extra details about CBC’s Opinion section, please see the FAQ,

For one more tackle Invoice C-15, see Wendy Lynn Lerat’s piece here.


It’s an thrilling however controversial time for Indian nation. Many are break up on whether or not they assist Invoice C-15, An Act Respecting the Implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, or whether or not they imagine it’s simply one other software to colonize and assimilate their peoples beneath Canadian legislation.  

Invoice C-15’s acknowledged function is to start the method of aligning Canadian legislation with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Folks (UNDRIP).

UNDRIP was developed over the span of 20 years by Indigenous peoples from all over the world, together with “Treaty Indian” management in Canada.  In reality, most of the individuals who reject Invoice C-15 at this time are the identical ones who used UNDRIP to carry Canada accountable to Indigenous peoples’ proper to free, prior and informed consent. 

Many First Nations assist Invoice C-15, as a result of in accepting UNDRIP it acknowledges the worldwide standing of Indigenous sovereignty, one thing that was included within the Fact and Reconciliation Fee’s 94 Calls to Motion. Nevertheless, practically each First Nation in Alberta has brazenly rejected the Invoice, together with many Conservative governments throughout Canada.

There is a stark distinction between individuals who have real-life considerations based mostly on information, and people fear-mongering and spreading conspiracy theories. 

Legitimate considerations stay on either side, particularly for individuals who have treaties with the Crown but to be honoured.

Treaty Indians maintain a definite relationship with the Crown. This relationship allowed Canada to exist at this time, as a result of our ancestors agreed to share the land. However Canada holds a legacy of ignoring Treaty agreements and imposing laws that has left our nationhood fragmented. 

WATCH | Andre Bear talks about worldwide legislation and UNDRIP

A violent colonial legacy

There’s a lengthy, darkish historical past of colonialism that may nonetheless be mitigated by honouring our unique Treaty agreements.

One of the crucial harmful items of laws is the Indian Act, which has breached our treaty and inherent rights since its implementation in 1876. 

The Indian Act is the present authorized relationship between Canada and First Nations. It was created to assimilate Indigenous peoples into Canadian society and assume whole management over our nationhood. The Indian Act stays one of the racist legal guidelines on the earth. It nonetheless controls First Nations citizenship, governance and land in Canada to at the present time.

Let’s hope that Invoice C-15 will solely contradict the Indian Act, and reset the connection with Indigenous peoples to the unique spirit and intent of the treaties.– Andre Bear

Many Treaty Indians are nonetheless traumatized by the violent colonial legacy of Canada. They may reject any coverage that provides any impression of adjusting their setting, and rightfully so. 

As self-determining nations, Treaty Indians have each proper to reject colonial laws. Nevertheless, the Indian Act legally binds our nationhood as wards of the Crown. Earlier than we understand true sovereignty or self-determination, we should get out of the Indian Act. 

A technique of doing that’s via implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples into Canadian legislation. Canada can take a step in the fitting course by implementing Invoice C-15 — which acknowledges Indigenous sovereignty and self-determination — after which stepping out of our approach. 

Placing an finish to assimilation and colonization

Invoice C-15 is just step one towards UNDRIP’s implementation into Canadian legislation. That is about Canada guaranteeing its personal legal guidelines align with worldwide human rights requirements. If we as Indigenous peoples are really sovereign, we shouldn’t be threatened by that.

While you really learn Invoice C-15, the preamble is about making ready authorities for the method of placing an finish to assimilation and colonization. 

“Whereas the Authorities of Canada rejects all types of colonialism and is dedicated to advancing relations with Indigenous peoples which might be based mostly on good religion and on the ideas of justice, democracy, equality, non-discrimination, good governance and respect for human rights,” it says.

We’d hope that Canada rejecting colonialism would imply rejecting the Doctrine of Discovery, Terra Nullius and the Indian Act. Perhaps these must be particularly named within the laws. 

Whether or not you assist Invoice C-15 or not, Canada passing it could undeniably be an vital time in our historical past. At one time Canada was in opposition to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. As we speak it desires to implement UNDRIP into Canadian legislation. 

Most significantly, let’s hope that Invoice C-15 will solely contradict the Indian Act, and reset the connection with Indigenous peoples to the unique spirit and intent of the treaties.


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