As a settler-colonial nation, the history of Canada (part of Turtle Island) is deeply destructive, violent, and showcases the very worst of humanity. Each time I pick up my Canadian passport and carry this light and average-looking book, I think of the genocide of Indigenous populations and the many slaves and laborers that created what we now know as Canada.
The Canadian Government, on June 16th, has officially passed Bill C-15 as a framework to implement the principles into Canadian law. This historic step now means that the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People is now a part of Canadian legislation. In this piece of legislation, it is upheld that “take all measures necessary to ensure that the laws of Canada are consistent with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and must prepare and implement an action plan to achieve the objectives of the Declaration.”
After its initial conception in 2007, Canada has finally agreed to pass it into law. However, this is a long-time due, and it recognizes the basic, fundamental rights and freedoms that Indigenous people are entitled to. At the core of why the Canadian Government signed UNDRIP is “to advance the federal implementation of the Declaration in consultation and cooperation with Indigenous peoples. The goal of Bill C-15 is to create a roadmap to implement the Declaration in Canada in partnership with Indigenous peoples.” The key component is how the implementation will only be as successful as the number of Indigenous groups and people consulted, for the primary way of Indigenous needs being represented is through amplifying their voices, and giving them a forum to make meaningful change.
WHAT IS UNDRIP?
After 25 years of collaboration and deliberation with Indigenous groups, 2007 saw the conception of The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, better known as UNDRIP. This UN Convention works to ensure that all states “constitute the minimum standards for the survival, dignity, and well-being of the indigenous peoples of the world.” Essentially, UNDRIP enshrines that Indigenous people have the same basic rights and enjoyment that other individuals do. In turn, Indigenous rights are put into international human rights law, making violating fundamental indigenous rights violations of international law.
MISSING AND MURDERED INDIGENOUS WOMEN
The Canadian Government has outlined in Bill C-15 that it shall “Respond to calls from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.” This refers to the Missing and Murdered Indigenous women, where thousands of Indigenous women, girls, and members of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community have been murdered and reported missing at a rate that according to the National Inquiry, amounts to a genocide:
“The significant, persistent and deliberate pattern of systemic racial and gendered, human and Indigenous rights violations and abuses — perpetrated historically and maintained today by the Canadian state, designed to displace Indigenous Peoples from their lands, social structures, and governance and to eradicate their existence as nations, communities, families, and individuals — is the cause of the disappearances, murders and violence experienced by Indigenous women, girls, 2SLGBTQQIA people, and this is genocide.”
It is paramount for the Canadian government to take meaningful action to combat the genocide that Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people currently face. Simply put, to claim to be fighting for reconciliation and decolonization while perpetrating genocide against a deeply marginalized and vulnerable population would be a travesty of injustice.
We must ensure that Indigenous voices are heard, Indigenous rights are protected, and we must decolonize every aspect of Canadian society before we can truly claim to be a postcolonial nation.