- The United Nations General Assembly adopts the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Canada votes against the UN General Assembly resolution.
- Canada endorses the Declaration fully consistent with Canada's Constitution and laws.
- The Truth and Reconciliation Commission calls on all levels of governments to adopt the Declaration as the framework for reconciliation.
- Canada fully endorses the Declaration and commits to its implementation.
- Canada and Indigenous groups begin discussions to explore new ways to advance the recognition of Indigenous rights and self-determination based on community priorities—today there are over 160 discussion tables representing more than 500 Indigenous communities.
- The Government of Canada renews its approach to Jordan’s Principle, which helps First Nations children living in Canada access the products, services and supports they need.
- Parliament passes Bill S-3 to help address known sex-based inequities in registration provisions of the Indian Act for certain situations.
- Canada releases the Principles Respecting the Government of Canada’s Relationship with Indigenous Peoples, which affirms the implementation of the Declaration requires transformative change in the Crown-Indigenous relationship.
- Parliament amends the First Nations Land Management Act to increase First Nations decision-making power over how their reserve lands are managed.
- Parliament passes the Department for Women and Gender Equality Act, which affirms Canada’s commitment to implement the Declaration and acknowledges that the rights in the Declaration are guaranteed equally to Indigenous individuals regardless of sex.
- Canada implements a new First-Nations education policy that supports First Nations control of First Nations education, an important component of the Declaration.
- The Attorney General issues Attorney General’s Directive on Civil Litigation Involving Indigenous Peoples to guide Canada in civil litigation involving Aboriginal and treaty rights.
- The final report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls calls on Canada to implement the Declaration.
- Parliament passes the Impact Assessment Act and the Canadian Energy Regulator Act. These laws create new rules to ensure the rights and culture of Indigenous peoples are respected throughout the federal impact assessment process, and provide for early and inclusive engagement and new opportunities for working in partnership with Indigenous Peoples.
- Parliament passes the Indigenous Languages Act, which supports the efforts of Indigenous peoples to reclaim, revitalize and strengthen Indigenous languages. In collaboration with Indigenous partners, this bill advances the objectives of the Declaration.
- Parliament passes an Act Respecting First Nations, Inuit, and Métis children, youth and families. The Act affirms the jurisdiction of Indigenous peoples over Indigenous child and family services, sets out national principles, and contributes to the implementation of the Declaration.
- Canada, British Columbia and the First Nations Summit endorse the Recognition and Reconciliation of Rights Policy for treaty negotiations in British Columbia, which supports innovative approaches to negotiations and affirms the Declaration as a foundation to this work.
- Canada introduces Bill C-15 - United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act and continues to collaborate with Indigenous peoples on implementing the Declaration in Canada.
- The Government of Canada releases its component of the National Action Plan, the Federal Pathway to Address Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, Two Spirit and LGBTQQIA+ People by addressing the complexity and interrelated nature of the causes of violence.
- The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act receives Royal Assent and comes into force. This Act will provide a roadmap for the Government and Indigenous peoples to work together to fully implement the Declaration.
- Launch of consultation, cooperation and engagement process with Indigenous peoples to develop an action plan and take measure to ensure laws are consistent with the Declaration.
- The Minister of Justice tables in Parliament the first annual progress report on the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act.
The Declaration explained
The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (the Declaration) provides a roadmap to advance lasting reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. It shows us that further steps must be taken to respect, recognize and protect the human rights of Indigenous peoples and to address the wrongs of the past.
The Government of Canada and Indigenous peoples are working together in consultation and cooperation to implement the Declaration.
The Declaration explained
The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is a comprehensive international human rights instrument on the rights of Indigenous peoples around the world.
Through 24 preambular provisions and 46 articles, it affirms and sets out a broad range of collective and individual rights that constitute the minimum standards to protect the rights of Indigenous peoples and to contribute to their survival, dignity and well-being.
These include rights related to:
- Equality and non-discrimination
- Self-determination, self-government and recognition of treaties
- Lands, territories and resources
- Civil and political rights
- Participation in decision-making and Indigenous institutions
- Economic and social rights
- Implementation and redress
- Culture, religion and language
- Education and media
The Declaration also affirms the need to respect and promote the rights of Indigenous peoples set out in treaties, agreements and other constructive arrangements.
The Declaration is the result of almost 25 years of work and collaboration between United Nations member states and Indigenous peoples from around the world. Indigenous leaders from Canada played a significant role in its development, including drafting and negotiating.
In 2016, the Government of Canada endorsed the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples without qualification and committed to its full and effective implementation.
Working with First Nations, Inuit and Métis to implement the Declaration and create a framework to achieve its objectives is a proclamation that the human rights of Indigenous peoples matter. It is a concrete action guided by values of respect, cooperation and human rights for all.
Why Canada is implementing the Declaration
Implementing the Declaration is a significant step forward on the shared path of reconciliation. It will contribute to building renewed, nation-to-nation, Inuit-Crown, government-to-government relationships with First Nations, Inuit, and Métis based on affirmation of rights, respect, co-operation and partnership.
Implementing the Declaration is about:
- creating a brighter future for present and future generations
- continuing the journey of justice, peace and reconciliation
- continuing to break down barriers and combat systemic racism and discrimination
- affirming and recognizing the inherent rights of Indigenous peoples, including the rights to self-determination and self-government
- protecting Indigenous governance and laws, Indigenous lands and territories, cultures and languages, promoting economic participation, and creating social and economic equality
Implementing the Declaration in Canada sets a positive example for upholding and respecting the human rights of Indigenous peoples throughout the world.
Implementing the Declaration also responds to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action 43, and the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Calls for Justice.
Everyone benefits when we all have access to basic human rights are met, this includes needs, safety and equal treatment. We all benefit when we respect and promote the rights of Indigenous elders, youth, persons with disabilities, women, men, and 2SLGBTQQIA+, and ensure everyone is protected against violence, systemic racism and discrimination. We all benefit when Indigenous people have equal access to opportunities and services, when Indigenous peoples and businesses are full partners in growing diverse, prosperous and sustainable economies.
Elements of the Declaration already reflected in federal laws
There are elements of the Declaration that are already reflected in a range of Canadian laws, policies and programs, including section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982, the equality rights provisions of the Charter and the non-discrimination protections provided by the Canadian Human Rights Act.
In addition, building on Canada’s legal framework and working in partnership with Indigenous peoples, we have taken a number of steps to further reflect the Declaration in Canada. These include federal laws that protect and promote Indigenous languages, Indigenous child and family services, and Indigenous participation in environmental impact assessments. Implementing the Declaration is generational work. The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act will help advance the implementation of the Declaration as a roadmap for reconciliation in Canada, building on steps the federal government has already taken in consultation and cooperation with Indigenous peoples.
The Declaration in action
The Declaration affirms that the human rights of Indigenous peoples matter. Together, First Nations, Inuit and Métis and the Government of Canada are already working to implement the Declaration – to put it into action. While the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act creates a lasting framework to advance federal implementation of the Declaration in collaboration with Indigenous peoples, there are already initiatives underway that are guided by the spirit of the Declaration.
Simply put, the Declaration affirms that the human rights of Indigenous peoples matter. Together, First Nations, Inuit and Métis and the Government of Canada are already working to implement the Declaration – to put it into action. While the United Nations Declaration on the rights of Indigenous Peoples Act creates a lasting framework to advance federal implementation of the Declaration in collaboration with Indigenous peoples, there are already initiatives underway that are guided by the spirit of the Declaration.
A timeline of the Declaration and efforts to support its implementation in Canada
In 2007 the United Nations adopted the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. In 2016, the Government of Canada fully endorsed the Declaration.
Since then, Canada has taken a range of important measures that contribute to renewed, respectful Crown-Indigenous relationships, in partnership with Indigenous peoples. For example, as of November 2021, nine federal laws make specific reference to the Declaration. These measures and others listed below contribute to the implementation of the Declaration in Canada.
The passage of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act is an important step to ongoing reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. Most importantly, the Act highlights the importance of ensuring that all federal laws are consistent with the Declaration.
- Annual Report 2022
- Statement – June 21, 2022
- Engagement and resource kit
- Fact Sheet - The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act
- Declaration themes
- Watch the video: Voices on the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
- The Declaration in action
- Bill C-15: What we learned report
Report a problem on this page
- Date modified: