In 2007, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UN Declaration), a comprehensive international human rights instrument on the rights of Indigenous peoples around the world. The UN Declaration sets out the minimum standards for the survival, dignity and well-being of Indigenous peoples throughout the world.
In 2016, the Government of Canada endorsed the UN Declaration without qualification and committed to its full and effective implementation. On June 21, 2021, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act (UN Declaration Act) received Royal Assent and immediately came into force. It creates a lasting framework to advance the implementation of the UN Declaration at the federal level.
In keeping with the UN Declaration Act, the Government of Canada worked in consultation and cooperation with Indigenous peoples to identify the measures necessary to ensure federal laws are consistent with the UN Declaration, and to co-develop an action plan to achieve the objectives of the UN Declaration.
In December 2021, Justice Canada launched a two-phased broad, inclusive and distinctions-based consultation and cooperation process with Indigenous peoples to advance the implementation of the UN Declaration Act. The first phase involved identifying priorities and potential measures for a draft action plan, while the second phase consisted of validating proposed measures and modifying them as necessary, identifying and filling any gaps, and including additional measures.
In March 2023, Canada released a draft action plan and a What We Learned to Date Report.
Since March 2023, Canada has been working intensively with Indigenous peoples, who identified gaps and brought forward hundreds of additional priorities, including numerous legislative, regulatory, policy and program changes for alignment with the UN Declaration, many of which have been included in this action plan. Many also raised the need for additional investments to support their capacity to participate in the implementation of the UN Declaration Act.
Numerous partners also called for the need to educate all Canadians on the UN Declaration and other topics that would enhance cultural sensitivity and promote understanding as well as good relations between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in Canada.
Consistent with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action, the Government of Canada is committed to supporting education and training so everyone can learn about:
- Indigenous rights as human rights
- the history, stories and values of Indigenous peoples
- the role of treaties, agreements and alliances as foundational to our ongoing nation-to-nation, Inuit-Crown and government-to-government relationships
- the truth about the grave harms against Indigenous peoples committed as part of settler colonialism and extensively documented by the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls
- the strength and resilience of Indigenous peoples in the face of those harms and their unwavering determination to steward their traditional territories and rebuild their languages, cultures, laws and prosperity.
The release of this action plan is the result of the first and second phase of the consultation and cooperation process and reflects another important step on our journey of reconciliation. We acknowledge the tight timeframes imposed by the UN Declaration Act, which created challenges for us all. Going forward, all submissions received from Indigenous partners are expected to inform the next phase of our implementation work together. Furthermore, the UN Declaration Act requires periodic review and amendment of the action plan, in consultation and cooperation with Indigenous peoples. In this way, the action plan is an evergreen roadmap, with opportunities to renew and further co-develop its contents as part of the UN Declaration implementation process.
Vision for the future
The UN Declaration Act provides a historic, transformative opportunity to ensure the full implementation of the inherent rights of Indigenous peoples as affirmed in the UN Declaration. The preamble to the UN Declaration Act reflects the vision of Indigenous peoples and leaders who worked so hard and for so long to bring the UN Declaration into being, and has guided and inspired our work to date. We reproduce it here to remind us of the objectives we are pursuing through this action plan:
Whereas the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples provides a framework for reconciliation, healing and peace, as well as harmonious and cooperative relations based on the principles of justice, democracy, respect for human rights, non-discrimination and good faith;
Whereas the rights and principles affirmed in the Declaration constitute the minimum standards for the survival, dignity and well-being of Indigenous peoples of the world, and must be implemented in Canada;
Whereas, in the outcome document of the high-level plenary meeting of the General Assembly of the United Nations known as the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples, Canada and other States reaffirm their solemn commitment to respect, promote and advance the rights of Indigenous peoples of the world and to uphold the principles of the Declaration;
Whereas, in its document entitled Calls to Action, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada calls upon federal, provincial, territorial and municipal governments to fully adopt and implement the Declaration as the framework for reconciliation, and the Government of Canada is committed to responding to those Calls to Action;
Whereas, in its document entitled Calls for Justice, the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls calls upon federal, provincial, territorial, municipal and Indigenous governments to implement the Declaration, and the Government of Canada is committed to responding to those Calls for Justice;
Whereas First Nations, Inuit and the Métis have, throughout history and to this day, lived in the lands that are now in Canada with their distinct identities, cultures and ways of life;
Whereas Indigenous peoples have suffered historic injustices as a result of, among other things, colonization and dispossession of their lands, territories and resources;
Whereas the implementation of the Declaration must include concrete measures to address injustices, combat prejudice and eliminate all forms of violence, racism and discrimination, including systemic racism and discrimination, against Indigenous peoples and Indigenous elders, youth, children, women, men, persons with disabilities and gender-diverse persons and two-spirit persons;
Whereas all doctrines, policies and practices based on or advocating the superiority of peoples or individuals on the basis of national origin or racial, religious, ethnic or cultural differences, including the doctrines of discovery and terra nullius, are racist, scientifically false, legally invalid, morally condemnable and socially unjust;
Whereas the Government of Canada rejects all forms of colonialism and is committed to advancing relations with Indigenous peoples that are based on good faith and on the principles of justice, democracy, equality, non-discrimination, good governance and respect for human rights;
Whereas the Declaration emphasizes the urgent need to respect and promote the inherent rights of Indigenous peoples of the world which derive from their political, economic and social structures and from their cultures, spiritual traditions, histories, philosophies and legal systems, especially their rights to their lands, territories and resources;
Whereas the Government of Canada recognizes that all relations with Indigenous peoples must be based on the recognition and implementation of the inherent right to self-determination, including the right of self-government;
Whereas the Government of Canada is committed to taking effective measures — including legislative, policy and administrative measures — at the national and international level, in consultation and cooperation with Indigenous peoples, to achieve the objectives of the Declaration;
Whereas the Government of Canada is committed to exploring, in consultation and cooperation with Indigenous peoples, measures related to monitoring, oversight, recourse or remedy or other accountability measures that will contribute to the achievement of those objectives;
Whereas the implementation of the Declaration can contribute to supporting sustainable development and responding to growing concerns relating to climate change and its impacts on Indigenous peoples;
Whereas the Government of Canada acknowledges that provincial, territorial and municipal governments each have the ability to establish their own approaches to contributing to the implementation of the Declaration by taking various measures that fall within their authority;
Whereas the Government of Canada welcomes opportunities to work cooperatively with those governments, Indigenous peoples and other sectors of society towards achieving the objectives of the Declaration;
Whereas the Declaration is affirmed as a source for the interpretation of Canadian law;
Whereas the protection of Aboriginal and treaty rights — recognized and affirmed by section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982— is an underlying principle and value of the Constitution of Canada, and Canadian courts have stated that such rights are not frozen and are capable of evolution and growth;
Whereas there is an urgent need to respect and promote the rights of Indigenous peoples affirmed in treaties, agreements and other constructive arrangements, and those treaties, agreements and arrangements can contribute to the implementation of the Declaration;
Whereas respect for human rights, the rule of law and democracy are underlying principles of the Constitution of Canada which are interrelated, interdependent and mutually reinforcing and are also recognized in international law;
And whereas measures to implement the Declaration in Canada must take into account the diversity of Indigenous peoples and, in particular, the diversity of the identities, cultures, languages, customs, practices, rights and legal traditions of First Nations, Inuit and the Métis and of their institutions and governance structures, their relationships to the land and Indigenous knowledge;
Visit www.Canada.ca/Declaration to read the UN Declaration Act.
Indigenous peoples were clear throughout the UN Declaration Act Action Plan consultation and cooperation process: the Action Plan is another step along our journey together, it is not an end point. It offers a path toward reconciliation that will be walked by generations to come. It cannot and must not be a static document, but must continue to evolve in consultation and cooperation with Indigenous peoples.
It is in this spirit that we see the co-development of a joint Vision Statement as a work in progress for which more time is needed. We commit to undertaking this work through a new UN Declaration Act Advisory Committee we propose to establish as we enter the implementation phase starting June 2023.
We would like to take this opportunity to reflect back some of the many inspiring vision statements shared with us by a diverse range of Indigenous partners over the course of the UN Declaration Act Action Plan consultation and cooperation process to date:
“Reconciliation for Indigenous Peoples is complex. There is no single concept that could clearly capture all that is required to achieve reconciliation. What we know is that reconciliation requires action. It requires a real effort by Canada and Canadian society to work with Indigenous Peoples to do better in the treatment of Indigenous Peoples in this Country. Reconciliation requires Canadian society to make amends for historical injustices that continue to hinder the wellbeing of Indigenous Peoples. Reconciliation requires the right for Indigenous Peoples to live in safety and be governed in accordance with their own Indigenous principles, values, customs and traditions without discrimination and that their Indigenous customs, laws and institutions not be constrained or diluted to conform to Canadian legal norms. Reconciliation requires a commitment by Canada and Canadian society to continue to work with Indigenous Peoples to improve a quality of life for Indigenous communities, families and our most vulnerable and that we become a world leader that respects the human rights of Indigenous Peoples.”
- Victoria B. Fred (for the Assembly of First Nations Yukon Region), Barrister & Solicitor, Kwanlin Dün First Nation
“While all First Nations in Canada have been subjected to oppression and colonization, some of the historic expressions of colonization have been distinct in different regions. Most fundamental in this regard is that, unlike much of Canada, in British Columbia there are few treaties – the pre-Confederation treaties on Vancouver Island, part of Treaty 8 and a handful of modern treaties. Given this reality, in British Columbia a primary focus of First Nation-Crown relations has been, and continues to be, completing the unfinished work of structuring proper relations that respect First Nations’ sovereignty, including their governments, laws, jurisdiction and inherent title and rights. This necessarily requires some different actions and approaches than the work that is required in other areas of Canada.”
- First Nations Leadership Council, “FNLC Priorities Paper on the United Nations Declaration Act National Action Plan”, May 2023
“Our vision is through the implementation of the United Nations Declaration of Indigenous People and the Action Plan is that all people will benefit, the Indigenous and the Canadian state alike. The Crown and the First Nations agreed, in treaty making, that their citizens would not only survive but prosper, the unique benefits of the coming together of two ways of life would be shared, and they would both benefit from the land and resources. The UNDA and the Action plan will promote greater compliance and awareness of the work required to respect and implement the human rights of Indigenous peoples.”
- Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations, Vision and Value Statement, May 2023
“The Anishinaabe Nation in Treaty 3 did not surrender any rights of self-government by agreeing to Treaty #3 in 1873. We exercise our inherent jurisdiction as the Anishinaabe (people) “planted on the land” by the Creator.
[...] Historic Treaties, signed before 1975, are constitutionally protected agreements that existed at the time of the Constitution Act of 1982 and were thereby recognized and affirmed. Canada recognizes 70 historic treaties, representing over 600,000 First Nations people in Canada and 364 First Nations. Indigenous peoples who entered into Historic Treaties (“Indigenous Historic Treaty Partners”) negotiated for certain Treaty rights and exchanged commitments with the Crown. The Supreme Court of Canada has stated on many occasions that the “honour of the Crown” requires the avoidance of “sharp dealing” because Treaties form a sacred relationship and it is assumed that the Crown intends to fulfil its promises.
[…] Under Article 37 of UNDRIP, it is imperative that Canada and Indigenous peoples work together to co-develop legislative and policy processes, tools, and mechanisms to ensure that Historic Treaties are recognized, observed, and enforced, or in other words—implemented. Implementing Historic Treaties in a broad and purposive manner to uphold the honour of the Crown is an ongoing process that can and should be supported and advanced by the UNDA.
[...] Canada’s Action Plan must provide for the honourable implementation of historic treaty promises and do so in a transformative way that renews the Crown-Indigenous treaty relationship and implements UNDRIP.”
- Grand Council Treaty #3, Draft action plan submission, May 18, 2023
“How can the Declaration be implemented in the Canadian legal system without breaking it down? The need to maintain a holistic approach must be stated here, since the Declaration brings together a set of rights of various kinds (economic, environmental, civil, social, health, cultural, etc.) that should not be compartmentalised.”
- Grand Council of the Waban-Aki Nation, Action Plan submission, April 2023
“The Action Plan is by no means a final solution to reconciliation in Canada. As such, whatever mechanisms the federal government chooses to bring Canada’s legal frameworks into compliance with UNDRIP must acknowledge that our understandings are always changing. The Action Plan’s mechanisms must, therefore, be flexible, forward looking, and support the renewal of Zagime’s nation-to-nation relationship with the Crown. This is a critical foundation to support a viable Action Plan.”
- Zagime Anishinabek First Nations, Action Plan submission, February 2, 2023
“Canada’s passing of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act, S.C. 2021, c. 14 (“UNDA”), and the development of this Action Plan is a watershed moment for Canada. It provides Canada with the opportunity, and imposes on it the responsibility, of recognizing, upholding, and protecting the fundamental rights of Indigenous people across the country – something, that to date, it has failed at, and until very recently it has actively worked against. Mikisew knows firsthand the positive changes that can come when Canada takes its international commitments seriously on a domestic stage: it was only after Mikisew engaged with the World Heritage Committee under the World Heritage Convention did Canada begin to take action to protect and restore the Wood Buffalo National Park (“WBNP”) World Heritage Site. Until Mikisew sought to hold Canada accountable for its international obligations, Canada had ignored the dying of the Peace Athabasca Delta and the resulting infringements of Mikisew’s Aboriginal and Treaty rights.
Mikisew is thus once again taking the opportunity to advocate for the federal government to develop strong, measurable, and meaningful actions to demonstrate its commitment to UNDRIP.”
- Mikisew Cree First Nation, Action Plan submission, May 2023
“The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act is about the respect and recognition of the human rights of Indigenous peoples. Canada’s implementation of UNDRIP boasts efforts to reinvigorate and recognize Indigenous self-governance. In our view, doing so requires the co-development of Nation-to-Nation mechanisms, including recognition of Indigenous laws and jurisdiction, enforcement and affirmation of Indigenous governance models and laws. Implementation of the new relationship is to be mutually beneficial to both of our treaty-based nations, reflecting the spirit and intent of our Treaty. An examination of Indigenous rights, now that the Doctrine of Discovery has been legally nullified will also need to be clearly articulated and confirmed. This is why SLCN recommends that Canada interacts with a group of self-identifying Cree Nations who wish to participate in an efficient and egalitarian process to implement the Declaration.”
- Shoal Lake Cree Nation, Action Plan submission, February 13, 2023
“In 2007, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (“UNDRIP”). UND[R]IP is the most comprehensive international instrument on the rights of Indigenous Peoples. It is a law that promotes and protects the minimum global standards to uphold the inherent human rights of Indigenous Peoples for regenerating their dignity, survival and well-being. It affirms treaties, the right of self-determination, traditional territories and resources, knowledge and heritage, language rights, and economic, health and social rights. It prevents any kind of discrimination. It makes Mi’kmaq persons under United Nations law’s general human rights principles. It deemed Mi’kmaw laws, traditions, and customs part of customary international law. It elaborates on existing inherent human rights standards and fundamental freedoms and incorporates international human rights law to apply to the Mawio’mi and Mi’kmaq. It affirms Mi’kmaw self-determination, its inherent and treaty rights and the freedom to choose their future. It affirms the Mi’kmaw quest to safeguard their heritage, knowledge, culture, identity and languages, which is vital for recognizing, protecting, and fulfilling Mi’kmaw rights. These inherent rights transform the past into a tool to address present needs and future challenges.”
- Eskasoni First Nation, “UNDRIP Communications Report: UNDRIP and Canadian Law”, April 2023
“True reconciliation requires making space for Indigenous voices that have been systemically denied, dismissed, or unheard. It also includes recognizing distinctions within those voices, such as the established rights of modern treaty nations.
The systems in which Canada has been operating were not designed for reconciliation. In fact, in most circumstances, they were designed to do the opposite. As Canada works towards active reconciliation through this action plan and other initiatives, it is vital we do not leave the voices of modern treaty nations behind. Developing and implementing the Action Plan in a meaningful way means decolonizing engagement formats, decision-making processes, and reporting requirements. The Alliance is trusting our treaty partners to take our words, values and advice into your departments and approval processes, and advocate for change when needed.”
- Chief Laura Cassidy of Tsawwassen First Nation, on behalf of the Alliance of BC Modern Treaty Nations
“True implementation of UNDRIP would necessitate a complete overhaul of Canadian law. This is a generational project. To do so properly and fully “in consultation and cooperation" with Indigenous peoples, adequate resources and time must be provided for all engagement and decision-making activities related to the Act to take place in a collaborative process. If this process is rushed, there is a strong possibility that a 'Pan-Indigenous' approach will be taken. DGG reminds Canada that such an approach would violate the diversity of Indigenous peoples that UNDRIP promotes and seeks to protect.”
- Délı̨nę Got’ı̨nę Government, Action Plan submission, January 2023
“We encourage Canada to continue to engage with us and other First Nations to gain better insight into what is required to implement UNDRIP. This current engagement on Canada’s Action Plan should be understood as the beginning of an ongoing dialogue. Among many other things, the Action Plan should include a commitment to continue to consult and work collaboratively to achieve reconciliation and the vision of UNDRIP.
Reconciliation has many meanings for Indigenous Nations across Canada. We appreciate the work done by our National Indigenous organizations to promote reconciliation but believe it is imperative for Canada to engage with us directly at the local and regional level to gain tangible understandings of our challenges so we can work together cooperatively to develop meaningful solutions.”
- Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in Government, Action Plan submission, December 16, 2022
“Implementation of UNDRIP, and its core themes of Indigenous freedom and self-determination, will only be successful through implementation of Indigenous jurisdiction and title. Centuries of Crown colonialism have denied and eroded Indigenous jurisdiction and ownership, and suppressed and supplanted Indigenous self-governance.
The Action Plan, to effectively implement UNDRIP, must place focus on unwinding this colonial legacy in a structured way that returns and recognizes Indigenous jurisdiction and ownership while at the same time supporting Indigenous Nations to rebuild and renew our governance and institutions.”
- Tŝilhqot’in National Government, Action Plan submission, December 15, 2022
“Full, effective and expedient implementation of the rights of Inuit that are recognized and affirmed by section 35, including the obligations and objectives of the Inuit-Crown treaties and self-government agreements, and the rights affirmed by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, is foundational for creating prosperity among Inuit […]”.
- Guiding Principles 3.1.2 of the Inuit Nunangat Policy
“In 2021, Canada and the Manitoba Métis Federation (MMF) — the government of the Red River Métis — signed the Manitoba Métis Self-Government Recognition and Implementation Agreement (SGRIA) to, among other things, “recognize, support, and advance the exercise of the Manitoba Métis’ [also known as the Red River Métis] right to self-determination, and its inherent right to self-government recognized and affirmed by section 35 and protected by section 25 of the Constitution Act, 1982, in a manner that is consistent with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, through a constructive, forward-looking, and reconciliation-based arrangement that is premised on rights recognition and implementation.”
This same year, Canada’s United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act (the Act) received royal assent and came into force. Both the Act and the SGRIA commit Canada to working with the MMF to implement the UN Declaration, to advance reconciliation with the Red River Métis, and to advance their inherent right to self-government and self-determination. Despite the developments of the last few years, there is much work to be done for Canada to reconcile with the Red River Métis and fully implement the UN Declaration.”
- Manitoba Métis Federation, Action Plan submission, April 28, 2023
“There is no word in Michif, Cree or Dënë for “reconciliation”. Instead, only Kwaayesh Aashtaayaahk – Michif, and Kwayskahstahsoowin – Michif and Cree, which means “setting things right” and Ëła nıdeł Ëła Ëghëdëleda há – Dënë, which means “gathering to work together”. Canada’s implementation of UNDRIP, which reflects the “minimum standards” of Indigenous rights, in accordance with the UNDRIP Act, and its commitments set out therein (e.g., “consultation and cooperation with Indigenous peoples,” etc.), is critical to Kwaayesh Aashtaayaahk / Kwayskahstahsoowin / Ëła nıdeł Ëła Ëghëdëleda há.”
- Métis Nation – Saskatchewan, Action Plan submission, February 14, 2023
“Canada’s Action Plan must not just implement a plan, it must guarantee Indigenous People their free access to their rights. The UNDRIP lays out these rights within its Articles, and Canada must now enforce these rights. These rights are inherent, and minimum standards to ensure Indigenous Peoples’ wellbeing. Until now, Canada’s colonial laws and policies have not prioritized these minimum standards, and this is a chance to do better. The UNDRIP is Canada’s framework for reconciliation, and the Action Plan is Canada’s chance to make good on that promise.”
- Native Women's Association of Canada, Action Plan submission, April 2023
“The implementation and application of the action plan necessitate a gender-based and intersectional approach. Advancing the rights of Indigenous peoples requires acting for the advancement of Indigenous women and girls, and recognizing the importance of their mobilizing role, the importance of their involvement in decision-making and of their full, equal and effective participation, as well as of their role as managers, leaders, protectors of natural resources and agents of change.”
- Quebec Native Women, Action Plan submission, April 2023
“Bill C-15, […], represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reset both the scales of justice and the balance of power so that indigenous women, children and two-spirit and gender-diverse people are protected, safe and free.
Accomplishing the equitable implementation of UNDRIP domestically will be no easy feat. It will require a distinctions-based approach that recognizes no hierarchy of rights among the first nations [sic], Inuit and Métis. Moreover, within each of the three distinctions-based groups, the unique experience of Indigenous women, girls and two-spirit and gender-diverse people will also require specific analysis and attention, given their precarious and vulnerable positions in Canadian society.”
- Les Femmes Michif Otipemisiwak – Women of the Métis Nation, Testimony to House of Commons Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs, on Bill C-15, April 15, 2021
“Opportunities are cultivated to advance digital pathways rooted in Indigenous ways of knowing and being, driving positive change for generations. Indigenous Peoples leveraging technology to amplify their worldviews, tech equity and digital sovereignty.”
- Indigenous Friends Association, Draft action plan validation, April 2023
“These considerations should inspire a main principle of UNDA, that is, that new approaches to Indigenous relations are required by Canada that respect and reflect the realities of Indigenous communities, their self-determination, and ways of collectively organizing; principles upheld by UNDRIP, but which are so often obfuscated by the scaffolding of the state and the colonial relations that Canada maintains with a select number of Indigenous organizations.”
- Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres, Feedback on ‘What We Learned to Date Report’, January 24, 2023
“The youth we have spoken to have clearly articulated that UNDRIP’s implementation will not reflect their or their communities’ needs and values unless it is done in a good way. In part, this means a substantive, accessible, meaningful, and continuous engagement. Indigenous people, including youth, take a risk when agreeing to engage with the Government of Canada; they risk having their words misrepresented, and they risk being ignored. Taking the time to engage in a substantive way will help Indigenous youth and their communities feel respected in the process. Ultimately, the needs, voices, and wellbeing of Indigenous youth and future generations must be centered in the Action Plan and any future initiatives taken under the umbrella of UNDRIP implementation.”
- Canadian Roots Exchange, “Indigenous Youth Voices and the UNDRIP Action Plan: Preliminary Report”, August 2022
2023-2028 Action Plan
The Government of Canada is committed to implementing the measures identified in this action plan, which outlines a whole of government roadmap for advancing reconciliation with Indigenous peoples through a renewed, nation-to-nation, government-to-government, and Inuit-Crown relationship based on recognition of rights, respect, cooperation, and partnership as the foundation for transformative change. It is important to emphasize that the action plan is not intended to be a comprehensive or restrictive set of actions to be taken by the federal government and Indigenous peoples to implement the UN Declaration. Rather, it will be an evergreen document that will allow for responsiveness to new priorities that emerge over time. The measures identified in the action plan are in areas where there were emerging trends or similarities in proposals among Indigenous peoples on priorities and key actions required to advance implementation of the UN Declaration Act.
The measures are organized into five chapters:
- Shared Priorities: this section sets out commitments to implement measures required by the UN Declaration Act as well as measures that address cross-cutting Indigenous priorities, and responds to priorities put forward by Indigenous peoples, including First Nations, Inuit and Métis, Modern Treaty and Self-Governing Nations, diversity groups (e.g., Indigenous women, Elders, youth, persons with disabilities, Two-Spirit, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Plus [2SLGBTQI+] people) and urban and off-reserve organizations.
- First Nations Priorities: this section sets out commitments to implement measures that respond to submissions put forward by First Nations representative organizations, historic and numbered Treaty partners, and First Nations governments.
- Inuit Priorities: this section sets out commitments to implement measures that respond to submissions put forward by Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK) and Inuit Treaty Organizations.
- Métis Priorities: this section sets out commitments to implement measures that respond to submissions put forward by the Métis National Council (MNC) and its governing members – the Métis Nation of Ontario, the Métis Nation of Saskatchewan, the Métis Nation of Alberta and the Métis Nation of British Columbia - as well as to separate submissions put forward by the Manitoba Métis Federation.
- Indigenous Modern Treaty Partner Priorities : this section sets out commitments to implement measures that respond to submissions put forward by Modern Treaty Partners across Canada.
Each measure is categorized as related to the legislated priorities or thematic areas of the UN Declaration to provide an organizing framework for reporting. These thematic areas reflect the rights set out in the UN Declaration as follows:
Themes of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
The UN Declaration Act promotes harmonious and cooperative relations between the State and Indigenous peoples, based on principles of justice, democracy, respect for human rights, non-discrimination and good faith, including:
- Equality and non-discrimination
- Gender equality
- Individual and collective rights
- Minimum standards
- No diminishment of rights
The UN Declaration Act is meant to be read as a coherent and integral whole; the rights within it are indivisible, interdependent, and interrelated and can be grouped into themes as follows:
- Self-determination, self-governance and recognition and enforcement of treaties
- Lands, territories and resources
- Civil and political rights
- Participation in decision-making and strengthening Indigenous institutions
- Economic and social rights
- Cultural, spiritual and language rights
- Education and media
- Implementation and redress
Next steps for implementing the Action Plan
The action plan is a starting point for ongoing consultation and cooperation with Indigenous peoples on UN Declaration implementation. The Government of Canada is committed to working with Indigenous peoples to advance implementation of the action plan in order to achieve the objectives of the UN Declaration.
A variety of new and existing mechanisms may be utilized to make progress on the work ahead, including permanent bilateral mechanisms, national and regional committees to co-develop implementation plans for the measures where needed, as well as possible federal-provincial-territorial-Indigenous fora.
To ensure Indigenous peoples’ continued participation in the action plan implementation process, Justice Canada, along with a number of federal departments, will provide funding to support Indigenous participation in the various implementation, monitoring and oversight processes described in the Action Plan.
Shared understandings and principles
Ensuring that the words and language used throughout the action plan are clear and consistent is important for successful implementation.
The 2021 National Action Plan: Ending Violence Against Indigenous Women, Girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ People includes a “Note to Reader” (pages 3 to 5) that defines some of the key terms that are also used in this action plan, including Indigenous, Inuit, First Nations, Métis, and Urban Realities. Recognizing the extensive collaboration that informed the definitions used in that report, we have also adopted them for purposes of this action plan.
Moreover, while the action plan uses different terminology, such as Indigenous partners, organizations, groups, and representative organizations, the terms used are not meant to be exclusionary. In keeping with the broad and inclusive consultation and cooperation approach, further dialogue with Indigenous peoples will clarify any ambiguity.
The following guiding principles are inspired from Indigenous partners’ written submissions toward the action plan or other existing reports. These principles offer starting points to a mutual understanding, and will continue to be co-developed with Indigenous partners as we work toward the action plan’s future renewal.
Building on what has come before
This action plan has been informed by, builds upon and should be read in harmony with the recommendations made by the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
Consultation and cooperation
The UN Declaration Act mandates the Government of Canada to not only consult with Indigenous peoples, but also cooperate with them. This means that Indigenous peoples have the opportunity, including through their representative organizations, to participate in and to positively influence federal decision-making processes with adequate time and supported by adequate resources.
Co-development reflects the highest end of the consultation and cooperation spectrum and involves Indigenous peoples and the Government of Canada working together in good faith through a substantive, collaborative, and consensus-based process to develop effective solutions and advance UN Declaration implementation in a timely way.
Implementation approaches will take into consideration region-specific knowledge and realities, including consultation at the local and regional levels, to maximize action plan measures’ positive impact across the country.
Inclusive and intersectional
The UN Declaration Act states that “measures to implement the UN Declaration in Canada must take into account the diversity of Indigenous peoples and, in particular, the diversity of the identities, cultures, languages, customs, practices, rights and legal traditions of First Nations, Inuit and the Métis and of their institutions and governance structures, their relationships to the land and Indigenous knowledge”.
The work of implementing the UN Declaration must also ensure, in all aspects and at all stages, the intentional and meaningful inclusion of First Nations, Inuit and Métis, Elders, youth, children, women, men, persons with disabilities, gender-diverse people and two-spirit individuals, as well as those residing in urban/off-reserve areas. The specific needs, experiences, identities, abilities, and knowledge of these populations will be respected and taken into consideration with the aid of an inclusive and intersectional approach that considers the principles of gender-based analysis plus (GBA+) as well as the social determinants of intersecting identities.
First Nations, Inuit and Métis Elders and Knowledge Keepers are centrally important to the health and continuity of distinct Indigenous cultures, knowledge, languages, laws, and many other inter-related facets of self-determination. Respect for and particular attention to the rights and unique contributions of Elders and Knowledge Keepers will be integral to fulfilling many of the commitments set out in this action plan.
Progressive and transformative
Implementing the UN Declaration requires intentionally moving beyond existing ways of doing things and work that is already underway. To be transformative and honour the vision at the heart of the UN Declaration, this work must build on and exceed current efforts.
Measurable and accountable
Actionable and sustained UN Declaration implementation must include co-developed accountability mechanisms and evaluation tools and frameworks that reflect Indigenous ways of knowing and understanding. This will help ensure that implementation is flexible, sustainable and adaptive to the evolving needs and priorities of Indigenous peoples. Regular assessment and reporting must utilize clear and specific indicators and timelines that have been co-developed with Indigenous peoples, and be supported by data collection and reporting methods that prioritize Indigenous data governance and sovereignty.
The language used in the action plan must be gender inclusive and in an accessible format to maximize reach and promote inclusion.
Integrative and holistic
Action plan measures are considered co-dependent and interconnected and thus must not be compartmentalized.
Report a problem on this page
- Date modified: