Implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act

Last updated: 12 December 2023

This legislation advances the implementation of the UN Declaration as a key step in renewing the Government of Canada’s relationship with Indigenous peoples. 

The purpose of this Act is to affirm the UN Declaration as an international human rights instrument that can help interpret and apply Canadian law. It also provides a framework to advance implementation of the UN Declaration at the federal level. 

This Act requires the Government of Canada, in consultation and cooperation with Indigenous peoples, to: 

  • Take all measures necessary to ensure the laws of Canada are consistent with the UN Declaration 
  • Prepare and implement an action plan to achieve the objectives of the UN Declaration 
  • Develop annual reports on progress and submit them to Parliament 

Federal implementation of the Act, in consultation and cooperation with Indigenous Peoples, will help: 

  • Create a roadmap to advance work together to implement the UN Declaration in Canada 
  • Protect, promote and uphold the human rights of Indigenous peoples in Canada 
  • Forge stronger relationships with Indigenous peoples and advance reconciliation 
  • Respond to calls from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls 
  • Confront the harms of the Canada’s colonial history and build a better future together 

The Act consists of a number of preambular provisions followed by seven sections and a schedule, which attaches the UN Declaration to the Act. 

The preamble of the Act will guide this work, with an emphasis on: 

  • Viewing the Declaration as a framework for reconciliation, healing and peace 
  • Respecting and promoting the inherent rights of Indigenous Peoples 
  • Addressing discrimination and racism and denouncing discriminatory doctrines, policies and practices 
  • Affirming the constitutional protection of Aboriginal and treaty rights and that such rights are not frozen but can evolve and grow 
  • Taking into account the diversity of Indigenous Peoples 
  • Respecting treaty rights, treaties and other agreements 
  • Basing all relations on Indigenous Peoples’ inherent right to self-determination, including the right of self-government 

The Act affirms that: 

  • Aboriginal and treaty rights protected by section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982 will be upheld and are not lessened in any way 
  • The UN Declaration already has application as a tool to interpret Canadian law 
  • The Government of Canada is committed to work with Indigenous Peoples to implement the UN Declaration 

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