young girl smiling down at camera standing in the forest

It’s about a better future.

Indigenous Human Rights Set in B.C. Law

New legislation will see B.C. laws brought in line with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. This is a historic time for everyone in B.C.

B.C.’s new law recognizes and respects the human rights of Indigenous peoples and will help to build a stronger B.C.

It brings Indigenous peoples to the table for the decisions that affect them, their families and their territories. It provides a way forward on reconciliation with a plan that will work for everyone in B.C.

Indigenous peoples and the B.C. government are building a better future, together. That means good jobs and opportunities that benefit all, while protecting the land, air and water.

Working together, we’re making real progress.

First Nations Summit, Assembly of First Nations and Union of British Columbian Indian Chiefs logos

What people are saying

Testimonial 1 – Cheryl Casimer

"The provincial government has a long history of denying the very existence and rights of Indigenous Peoples. We are pleased that this changes today, and the Province of British Columbia is working with us in turning the page in our collective history and embarking on a new era."

– Cheryl Casimer, First Nations Summit

Testimonial 2 – Grand Chief Stewart Phillip

"This landmark bill is not only aspirational but includes tangible and practical tools for implementation. We hold up our hands to our ancestors and past leaders for paving the way for this critical work, and we look to our grandchildren, who will enjoy a more certain future."

– Grand Chief Stewart Phillip

Testimonial 3 – Regional Chief Terry Teegee

“Businesses and investors will benefit from this as it creates certainty and predictability for projects in this province – British Columbians will benefit from job creation, and First Nations will benefit by having a seat at the table. Mussi Cho to all British Columbians.”

– Regional Chief Terry Teegee

Testimonial 4 – Khelsilem, Squamish Nation

“Our leaders fought for us, for future generations. Today is really an opportunity for us to be proud of something they started, and we are carrying on.”

– Khelsilem, Squamish Nation

Testimonial 5 – Jill Tipping

“The new legislation brings clarity, certainty, a framework, and a process that is going to enable all of us to move forward. With projects. With investment. And move forward with business in a way that shares prosperity fairly with everyone.”

– Jill Tipping, BC Tech Association

Testimonial 6 – Judy Wilson

“This legislation means that we can look squarely at each other and say this is how we’re going to work together.”

– Kukpi7 Judy Wilson, Union of BC Indian Chiefs

Testimonial 7 – Val Litwin

“[T]his legislation is the start of a long-term conversation that has the potential to lead toward clear and meaningful collaboration between government, Indigenous groups and the business community… a shared decision-making process between Indigenous Peoples and government must be pursued, and has the potential to create greater certainty for business.”

– Val Litwin, BC Chamber of Commerce

Testimonial 8 – Kendra Johnston

“As one of the largest private sector employers of Indigenous peoples in Canada, we…encourage fostering respectful relationships through early engagement. We look forward to working with government & Indigenous leaders on the implementation of UNDRIP principles to ensure clarity and certainty for all British Columbians.”

– Kendra Johnston, Association for Mineral Exploration BC

Testimonial 9 – Susannah Pierce

“LNG Canada supports the government's effort to achieve reconciliation through the implementation of legislation in support of UNDRIP. LNG Canada welcomes legislation that will enhance transparency, creates greater certainty and ultimately delivers shared prosperity for indigenous communities in the province.”

– Susannah Pierce, LNG Canada

Testimonial 10 – Greg D’Avignon

“The Business Council of British Columbia membership is optimistic for the long-term potential of B.C.’s UNDRIP legislation to advance meaningful reconciliation. In the spirit of collaboration, the implementation of the legislation must include engagement with business and their Indigenous partners and communities. Together we can collectively inform the work ahead.”

– Greg D’Avignon, Business Council of British Columbia

Testimonial 11 – David Kiemele

“As a business in Canada, Cermaq has already adopted UNDRIP as a reconciliation framework and is applying it in our corporate policy… We have a very public commitment to respecting human rights, diversity and the opportunity for personal and community prosperity.”

– David Kiemele, Cermaq

Testimonial 12 – Sheryl Lightfoot

“Even in countries like Canada with relatively strong legal frameworks for supporting Indigenous peoples’ rights, severe implementation gaps remain between legal recognition and concrete action steps on the ground. This legislation is a powerful first step toward implementation in British Columbia.”

– Sheryl Lightfoot, University of British Columbia

Testimonial 13 – Ry Moran

“Upholding & protecting human rights is an essential step in our collective journey of reconciliation. Reconciliation cannot occur without these protections in place. We commend the Province of B.C. for recognizing the human rights of Indigenous peoples and for creating a tangible pathway forward to fully realize and uphold UNDRIP.”

– Ry Moran, National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation

Testimonial 14 – Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond

“The legislation to implement UNDRIP in BC is an historic & fulsome response to the Calls to Action of the Truth & Reconciliation Commission. It brings clarity, stability & respect for the human rights of Indigenous peoples…it will mark a positive turning point for justice & human rights in BC.”

– Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, Aki-kwe, University of British Columbia

Testimonial 15 – Santa Ono

“UBC is one of the first universities to explicitly express support for the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and since Indigenous engagement is one of our top strategic priorities, we welcome legislative guidance on how to implement the UN Declaration, in practice.”

– Santa Ono, University of British Columbia

Testimonial 16 – Chief Don Tom

"This is an opportunity where our resources are not put into lawyers, where they're not put into fighting court cases. These resources can stay within BC. These resources can stay within our communities because we have a path forward now."

– Chief Don Tom, Union of BC Indian Chiefs

Testimonial 17 – Stephanie Smith

“I'm proud that our government is committed to the full implementation of UNDRIP in B.C. And I'm excited for what this legislation will mean for our ability to build stronger relationships with Indigenous communities and create a better, more just society for all.”

– Stephanie Smith, British Columbia Government and Service Employees' Union

Testimonial 18 – Teri Mooring

“As teachers, we often witness the devastating impacts of residential schools & intergenerational trauma upon our colleagues, students and families. Working to make the principles enshrined in the Declaration come alive in our schools & society is one of the most significant contributions we can make to future generations.”

– Teri Mooring, BC Teachers Federation

Testimonial 19 – Jerry Dias

“The UNDRIP is important to reconciliation and helps build a legal framework to let Indigenous communities thrive.”

– Jerry Dias, Unifor

Testimonial 20 – Jennifer Whiteside

“BC's UNDRIP legislation provides the tools we need to build a path forward that respects the human rights of Indigenous peoples. In health care, this includes ensuring culturally safe care and expanding the participation of Indigenous health care workers in delivering services.”

– Jennifer Whiteside, Hospital Employees' Union

Testimonial 21 – Laird Cronk

“The half-a-million workers our affiliates represent in every corner of [BC] know that Indigenous rights are human rights…With UNDRIP as its framework, this Bill enables Indigenous communities to take on meaningful roles in decision-making & provides a just & equitable path for economic development that benefits all workers & communities.”

– Laird Cronk, BC Federation of Labour

Testimonial 22 – Paul Faoro

“The government’s historic move to implement UNDRIP is a hugely important step in the right direction. Along with our national union, CUPE BC stands in strong support of enshrining…UNDRIP in provincial legislation. It’s absolutely essential that we move beyond the word ‘reconciliation’ and put it into action.”

– Paul Faoro, CUPE BC

Testimonial 23 – Kim Novak

“It is imperative that the labour movement stand behind First Nations to ensure that reconciliation is more than aspirational. We must lift up First Nations workers and communities – and that starts with passing legislation that ensures the UN Declaration becomes the framework for meaningful, actionable reconciliation. It’s past time.”

– Kim Novak, United Food and Commercial Workers 1518

Testimonial 24 – Rob Ashton

“First Nations have been active in trade and commerce in what we call BC from time immemorial. The International Longshore & Warehouse Union Canada is proud to work with Nations in the territories we work in and stand proudly to support this legislation that takes real action on Indigenous rights.”

– Rob Ashton, International Longshore and Warehouse Union

Testimonial 25 – Geoff Plant

“The Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act is a profoundly important step on the road to reconciliation in BC. It’s both a strong affirmation of indigenous rights and a framework for ensuring the work of making these rights meaningful ‘on the ground’ is done collaboratively, responsibly and transparently.”

– Geoff Plant, former Attorney General of BC and minister responsible for Treaty Negotiations (2001 to 2005)

Testimonial 26 – Dr. Roshan Danesh

“Through the legislation we will gain more coherence in how government and First Nations act, partner, and invest in the work of reconciliation – and see increasingly tangible progress built through co-operation.”

– Dr. Roshan Danesh, strategic advisor on reconciliation and conflict resolution

Testimonial 27 – Paul Joffe

“This new BC Act collaboratively implements the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which enjoys worldwide support. Congratulations to the Indigenous peoples and BC government for establishing high standards – that other provinces can look to – in addressing such urgent issues as Indigenous governance, human rights, justice and reconciliation.”

– Paul Joffe, member of Québec and Ontario bars, specializing in international human rights law

Testimonial 28 – Mayor Lisa Helps

“Implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is an essential step forward on the reconciliation path. I commend the Province for their commitment to this important piece of work and to centering the TRC Calls to Action.”

– Mayor Lisa Helps, City of Victoria

Testimonial 29 – Maja Tait

“The Union of B.C. Municipalities welcomes legislation establishing a framework for reconciliation in British Columbia. Our membership supports the ongoing work of reconciliation both locally and provincially…We look forward to reviewing the legislation and ascertaining the requirement for local government consultation and engaging with all parties to support this work.”

– Maja Tait, Union of B.C. Municipalities

Testimonial 30 – Mayor Josie Osborne

“All my experiences working in indigenous communities and now being a leader in my own rural community confirm that the only path forward to prosperity and mutual benefit is one on which we walk together at every level – as individuals, as communities, and as governments.”

– Mayor Josie Osborne, District of Tofino

Testimonial 31 – Mayor Kennedy Stewart

“This legislation is an important step forward to a brighter future for the province and for indigenous peoples. As a City of Reconciliation, Vancouver has been working to strengthen relationships between the municipality, First Nations and urban Indigenous peoples. The province’s legislation will provide a supportive context for that work.”

– Mayor Kennedy Stewart, City of Vancouver

Testimonial 32 – Caitlyn Vernon

“Recognizing and respecting Indigenous rights is a tangible step towards reconciliation that will create more certainty for communities and for investment around the province...Recognizing Indigenous rights in B.C. law will avoid conflict and costly lawsuits…[and] be good for jobs and good for the environment.”

– Caitlyn Vernon, Sierra Club BC

Testimonial 33 – Jessie Corey

“Bold action to stem the climate and biodiversity crises will only be achieved with the full collaboration and participation of Indigenous communities across Canada…With this new legislation, governments are creating a better path forward to a shared future with healthy landscapes and wildlife populations at the heart of it.”

– Jessie Corey, CPAWS-BC

Testimonial 34 – Jennifer Preston

“Creating a legislative framework in British Columbia for the implementation of UNDRIP is vitally important for achieving reconciliation and safeguarding human rights. Supporting this effort is critical to ensuring Indigenous peoples’ rights are respected, as we move away from the legacy of colonization into a new reality.”

– Jennifer Preston, Canadian Friends Service Committee (Quakers)

Testimonial 35 – Christianne Wilhelmson

“We strongly support the …BC government to fully adopt the UNDRIP and incorporate it into the laws of this province. Indigenous communities have always been stewards of BC’s coast, and this process will strengthen efforts to sustain the marine ecosystems, coastal economy, and the communities of the Salish Sea.”

– Christianne Wilhelmson, Georgia Strait Alliance

Testimonial 36 – Shannon Daub

“For all of us who have said we support the calls to action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, we must speak up in support of this legislation that puts the recognition of Indigenous peoples’ human rights into action.”

– Shannon Daub, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (BC)

Testimonial 37 – Maria Dobrinskaya

“This important bill takes a significant step forward in continuing to build upon the recognition and affirmation of Indigenous rights as outlined in…the Canadian Constitution. The respectful, balanced, process-oriented approach in this legislation will provide certainty and opportunity in our province, to the benefit of all British Columbians.”

– Maria Dobrinskaya, Broadbent Institute

Testimonial 38 – Jessica Clogg

“By recognizing Indigenous peoples as decision-makers with inherent jurisdiction, who have stewarded their territories for millennia…BC has set a course for better and more sustainable decisions for all. We look forward to working with the Province and Indigenous governments to ensure our environmental laws align with the UN Declaration.”

– Jessica Clogg, West Coast Environmental Law Association

Testimonial 39 – Adam Olsen

“The legislation is the result of decades of work and advocacy from Indigenous leaders in Canada…We are now on a path of cooperation and collaboration unlike we have seen in the history of BC. It is a path that creates certainty by avoiding the conflict that we face today.”

– Adam Olsen, MLA for Saanich North and the Islands and member of Tsartlip First Nation

Testimonial 40 – Gitxsan Chief Glen Williams

“With BC legislating the UN Declaration, it will signal and provide opportunities for meaningful coexistence, true redress to be recognized as the proper rights holders, partnerships on the lax yip to jointly manage, plan and share the economic fruits.”

– Gitxsan Chief Glen Williams

Testimonial 41 – Clara Morin Dal Col

“The Métis Nation BC is pleased this government is fulfilling its commitment to introduce legislation implementing UNDRIP into provincial laws and policies. Our 20,000 citizens now look forward to seeing that commitment to UNDRIP demonstrated in the legislation itself, including formal recognition of our constitutional rights under Section 35.”

– Clara Morin Dal Col, Métis Nation British Columbia

Testimonial 42 – Bill Bresser

“The Métis Nation British Columbia Senate applauds the steps taken by British Columbia to introduce UN Declaration legislation as a fundamental step towards acknowledging the human rights of Indigenous Peoples, including the Métis in British Columbia.”

– Bill Bresser, Métis Nation British Columbia Senate

Testimonial 43 – Scott Clark

“It’s just brilliant that they are taking steps to implement UNDRIP. Of course, as they go forward, it’s vital to ensure that the 80 per cent of Indigenous people in BC who live off-reserve will be engaged.”

– Scott Clark, North-West Indigenous Council

Testimonial 44 – Robert Bertrand

“This is a positive step towards putting Canada’s international commitments into practice. By ensuring their laws respect internationally-recognized Indigenous rights, British Columbia is setting an example that we expect all three levels of government will follow.”

– National Chief Robert Bertrand, Congress of Aboriginal Peoples

Testimonial 45 – Deb Foxcroft

“We have new hope that this historic legislation will be the beginning of the end of the systemic mistreatment of our Indigenous children & their families. This legislation paves the way forward for the rest of Canada & is a model for other Indigenous peoples & governments around the world.”

– Deb Foxcroft, BC Aboriginal Child Care Society

Testimonial 46 – Brent Langlois

“We look forward to the positive impact this will have in the near future on Provincial legislation, policies and regulations as they pertain to emergency services in B.C.”

– Brent Langlois, First Nations Emergency Services Society

Testimonial 47 – Tyrone McNeil

“The UNDRIP legislation is a significant step forward to support reconciliation through education. We appreciate the opportunity to collaborate with the Province of British Columbia, and our education partners, to align our work with the UN Declaration to truly transform education that respects and recognizes Indigenous learners and communities.”

– Tyrone McNeil, First Nations Education Steering Committee

Testimonial 48 – Chief Robert Joseph

“[This legislation] will be a beacon for all of us to advance reconciliation as recommended by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The bill will create a foundational pillar for deeper inclusion and equality for all without diminishing the same for all others.”

– Chief Robert Joseph, Reconciliation Canada

Testimonial 49 – Karen Joseph

“This is one of the most significant human rights milestones achieved for Indigenous peoples by any government in the world. B.C. has set a legislative precedent that can guide the way forward for all provinces across this country as well as at the federal level for meaningful recognition and engagement.”

– Karen Joseph, Reconciliation Canada

Testimonial 50 – Mary Teegee

“Imagine the day when Indigenous people resume responsibility for the well-being of our children, when our own laws entrench our children’s right to their family, clans, culture & lands. [We] applaud the work of the First Nations Leadership Council & Province of BC in developing a legislative framework to adopt UNDRIP.”

– Mary Teegee, Delegated Aboriginal Agencies’ Directors Forum

Testimonial 51 – Ken Malloway

“This legislation will help to put us on the path to reconciliation where First Nations’ deep connections & integrated relationship with their fisheries is honoured & understood… and where First Nations can enjoy without restriction the full values and benefits of aquatic resources now and into the future.”

– Ken Malloway, First Nations Fisheries Council

Testimonial 52 – Charlene Belleau

“The right to self-determination that is critical to all of the UN Declaration, including Article 23 specific to health and wellness, is central to the FNHC vision of healthy, self-determining and vibrant BC First Nations, children, families and communities.”

– Charlene Belleau, First Nations Health Council

Testimonial 53 – Denise Williams

“True reconciliation must be based on mutual understanding, respect, rights and recognition, and we look forward…to how the implementation of these rights through this important legislation will allow Indigenous people and all of our provincial society to thrive in a new economy of immense possibility.”

– Denise Williams, First Nations Technology Council

Testimonial 54 – Charlene Higgins

“This historic legislation will provide Indigenous governments with a much-needed tool to engage with the Province to make decisions together as partners that share a common interest in finding innovative approaches to sustainably manage our natural resources.”

– Charlene Higgins, BC First Nations Forestry Council

Testimonial 55 – Khelsilem

“Indigenous peoples’ struggle for Canadian governments to affirm and ratify Indigenous rights has been long and painful. But the new legislation on the rights of Indigenous peoples is a moment in our generation where we work together to create meaningful impact for all our communities. This is a historic moment in Canada brought together by generations of work.”

– Khelsilem, Squamish Nation

Testimonial 56 – Chief Na’Moks

“This is a great step forward, the doors are open. Utilizing our traditional/hereditary governance is the way to positively move forward together. This is a step in the right direction.”

– Chief Na’Moks (John Ridsdale), Wet'suwet'en

Reconciliation talks

Moving forward towards true and lasting reconciliation

The new law will:

feathers and wreath icon

Moving Forward 1

Recognize and respect rights of Indigenous peoples in all areas of life – human rights, environment, language, education and more.

couple with child icon

Moving Forward 2

Create more opportunities for Indigenous peoples to be full partners in the economy.

scales icon

Moving Forward 3

Move B.C. into a new era of rights recognition, moving away from conflict and court battles.

four people meeting around a table icon

Moving Forward 4

Develop a clear, predictable path for everyone to work together as partners.

A New Path Forward

Every person and every community plays an important role in building a better future in B.C.

Reconciliation in Action

Working together creates better outcomes for all of us. It means creating good jobs and opportunities, while protecting the environment. Learn more about how Indigenous peoples, industry and government are working together to create a brighter future.

Working together for the children – 3 Nations

Posted on October 21, 2019

...


Promoting economic opportunity in the Sechelt area

Posted on October 21, 2019

...


Saving wild salmon in the Broughton Archipelago

Posted on October 15, 2019

...


Protecting the Sacred Headwaters of the Klappan Valley

Posted on October 15, 2019

...

What is the UN Declaration?

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) is an international set of standards to protect the rights of Indigenous peoples. It outlines rights in all areas of life – like human rights, education, and health. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission called for the UN Declaration to be used as a framework for moving toward true and lasting reconciliation.

Why is British Columbia implementing the UN Declaration?

Implementing the UN Declaration will help Indigenous peoples, industry, communities and government work together. Together, we can build a stronger B.C., where no one gets left behind.

Over time, the new law can help:

  • Increase the number of Indigenous students who graduate from high school and go on to post-secondary education.
  • Raise the standard of living, so Indigenous families don’t have to live in poverty.
  • Recognize Indigenous peoples’ inherent rights, interests and voices.
  • End the epidemic of Indigenous children in government care.

The B.C. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act will help create stronger and healthier communities, good jobs and economic growth.

Is British Columbia the first province to pass a law on the UN declaration?

Yes, B.C. is the first province to put the UN Declaration into action through legislation and recognize Indigenous peoples’ human rights in B.C. law. These inherent rights are protected in Canada’s constitution (section 35) and recognized in court decision after court decision. Other places in Canada have tabled similar legislation, but they have not yet been passed.

Which laws will be changed first?

Indigenous peoples and the Province are working in partnership to design a plan to move forward. Together, we will consult with Indigenous communities on which B.C. laws to change first to align with the UN Declaration. Local government, the public and other stakeholders will be engaged as the plan is developed. Every minister in the provincial government has been mandated to review laws and policies to make sure they align with the UN Declaration. This work will continue.

What will it look like to implement the new B.C. law?

Working together means a stronger B.C. for everyone. By recognizing Indigenous rights, we set a clear path forward, help heal historic wrongs and create new opportunities. This approach has already been put into action in B.C. For example:

Child welfare: B.C. recognizes Indigenous peoples’ right to keep Indigenous children with their families and in their communities where they belong. The government is working, in partnership, to change the child welfare system. This shift aligns with the UN Declaration, which speaks to Indigenous peoples’ right to self-determination, including caring for their children.

Environmental assessment: B.C. supports Indigenous peoples’ right to take part in decisions about their lands, territories and resources as reflected in the UN Declaration and supported by many court decisions. New environmental assessment legislation provides clear roles for Indigenous peoples in the environment assessment process and decision-makings on major projects in B.C.

What is free, prior and informed consent?

Free, prior and informed consent recognizes Indigenous peoples’ rights, interests and voices. It means early, deep and meaningful involvement of Indigenous peoples on matters that affect their peoples, communities and territories. Instead of uncertainty and conflict, we can work together to build a stronger B.C., with more opportunities for Indigenous peoples, B.C. businesses, communities and families.

Resources

General Information

Download
287KB PDF

Info for business community

Download
244KB PDF

Info on environmental assessment

Download
182KB PDF

Info on mining, mineral exploration and oil and gas

Download
195KB PDF

Info on forestry

Download
196KB PDF

Info on agriculture and ranching

Download
183KB PDF

Info for local government

Download
190KB PDF

Poster

Download
1.3MB PDF

2019/2020 Annual Report

Download
476KB PDF