The Declaration Act Secretariat, led by Associate Deputy Minister Jessica Wood/Si Sityaawks, is an independent office that was created to coordinate and assist cross-government to ensure provincial laws align with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UN Declaration), as set out in section 3 of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act.
Announced in Budget 2022, the Secretariat’s core functions are to:
- provide guidance on consultation and cooperation and consistency of laws;
- develop processes and measures to support alignment of laws;
- inform government’s legislative agenda; and
- serve in an interlocutor role.
As the first outcome, the Secretariat released the ‘Interim Approach to Implement the Requirements of Section 3 of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act’ in October 2022. The world-leading interim guidance approach provides every ministry and sector of government with clear, transparent processes for how they are to work together with Indigenous Peoples in developing provincial laws, policies and practices, as required under the Declaration Act.
Read the Interim Approach to Implement the Requirements of Section 3 of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act’ in October 2022.
Read the report written on section 3 by Dr. Roshan Danesh KC that informed the above interim approach.
The work to align laws with the UN Declaration is resulting in an increasing number of legislative reforms. The Province passed several bills in the 2nd Session of the 42nd Parliament (Fall 2021) that resulted in the alignment of legislation with the UN Declaration.
Accessible British Columbia Act (Bill 6)
The Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction introduced the new legislation on April 28, 2021 as Bill 6. The Accessible British Columbia Act, passed into law June 3, 2021, establishes the legal framework to identify, prevent and remove barriers to accessibility.
Human Rights Code Amendment Act (Bill 18)
The Attorney General introduced this statute on November 17, 2021 as Bill 18. The bill, which was passed into law November 23, 2021, amended the provincial Human Rights Code to further uphold Indigenous human rights and advance reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples by adding Indigenous identity as a protected ground against discrimination.
Amendments to the Adoption Act (Bill 21)
The Ministry of Children and Family Development developed these amendments, which were introduced under a miscellaneous statute on October 7, 2021 as Bill 21. Passed into law October 21, 2021, the amendments authorized information-sharing under the Adoption Act. The changes established this authority to support First Nation adoptees in obtaining their status so they can gain access to federal health, dental and other benefits.
Amendments to the Child, Family and Community Service Act (Bill 21)
The Ministry of Children and Family Development developed these amendments, which were introduced under a miscellaneous statute on October 7, 2021 as Bill 21. The bill was passed into law October 21, 2021, aligning the Child, Family and Community Service Act with the information-sharing requirements of the federal statute, An Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families.
Forests Statutes Amendment Act (Bill 23)
The Minister of Forests introduced this statute on October 20, 2021 as Bill 23. Passed into law on November 23, 2021, the bill amended the Forests Act, the Forest and Range Practices Act, and the Forest Practices Code of British Columbia Act. These amendments establish the framework for an approach that is more focused on ecological and cultural values. A key part of this will be replacing forest stewardship plans, which are currently developed by industry, with forest landscape plans developed by the Province with First Nations, local communities and stakeholders, which will create new opportunities for shared decision-making between the Province and First Nations.
Education Statutes Amendment Act (Bill 25)
The Minister of Education and Child Care introduced the amendments on October 25, 2021 as Bill 25. Passed into law on November 2, 2021, the bill amended the First Nations Education Act, the Teachers Act, and the Criminal Records Review Act, all in support of First Nations’ jurisdiction over education on First Nation land. In addition, the legislation changed the composition of the British Columbia Teachers’ Council, ensuring representation and a voice for First Nations Education Authority.
Interpretation Amendment Act (Bill 29)
The Attorney General introduced this statute on November 17, 2021 as Bill 29, which was passed into law on November 23, 2021. This bill added a universal non-derogation clause to the Interpretation Act, making it explicit that provincial laws uphold, and do not abrogate or derogate from, the rights of Indigenous Peoples under Section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982. Bill 29 also amended the Interpretation Act to provide that all provincial acts and regulations must be read to be consistent with the UN Declaration.
The progress of bills can be viewed on the Parliamentary Business website. Recent announcements on new or amended legislation can be found on the Working for you website.
Contact the Secretariat at: DeclarationActSecretariat@gov.bc.ca