UNDRIP task force report outlines how to implement rights document

The Squamish Nation’s song of victory rang out in Vancouver as chiefs, community leaders and city hall officials gathered to celebrate a report by a joint task force on the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) in BC’s largest City.

The task force consisted of city officials and members of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh nations.

“About one hundred and fifty years after the Confederacy, we are reckoned as the people of this country of this country of this world,” said Elder Larry Grant of the Musqueam Nation.

The national chair of the First Nations Assembly called it a historic day for First Nations across the country – and that there is an opportunity for other communities to embrace UNDRIP.

“It’s really important for all communities, especially in BC that have their own UNDRIP legislation, to really embrace these types of plans and align with these principles,” said RoseAnne Archibald. “I spoke to someone here earlier who is part of the plan making and they are talking about eventually talking about shared taxation from where you are today, which is at the very beginning of the plan.

“So how do you begin to share this wealth generated from the land with the people who own the land of the original peoples?”

In October 2019, the Province of BC officially recognized UNDRIP.

Khelsilem, chair of the Squamish council and co-chair of the task force, told the gathering the strategy stemmed from “genuine mutual respect” between those involved and a desire to create a meaningful path to reconciliation in the city.

The recommendations are grouped by theme: social, cultural and economic well-being; ending indigenous racism and discrimination; self-determination and the inherent right to self-government; and rights and titles of indigenous peoples.

Calls for action include prioritizing access to heritage sites for nations’ members and developing a policy to evaluate industrial infrastructure development through the lens of indigenous rights and environmental racism.

The report also recommends that the Vancouver Police Department work with Indigenous Peoples to integrate the principles of the United Nations Declaration and the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls into its operations.

Vancouver City Council unanimously passed a motion in March 2021 to establish an UNDRIP task force in partnership with nations, which officials say produced the first jointly developed strategy to implement the United Nations Declaration between a community and indigenous governments in Canada.

With Canadian Press files

Video Journalist / Vancouver

Tina, a proud BC Métis, began her television career in 1997 as a film and television talent agent. She joined APTN National News in 2007 as a video journalist in the Vancouver office. In 2010 she received the Amnesty International Human Rights Journalism Award for her story about murdered and missing women and girls.

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