British Columbia Legislature (File Photo)

The BC provincial government has introduced a new legislation that, if passed, could make it the first province to align its laws with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

The legislation, titled the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act, was developed in collaboration with the First Nations Leadership Council at the direction of First Nations, and aims to create a framework of reconciliation that is in keeping with the aims of the UN Declaration.

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Originally passed in 2007, the UNDRIP grants Indigenous Peoples the right to compensation for lands that were taken or used without their consent.

“The provincial government has a long history of denying the very existence and rights of Indigenous peoples,” said Cheryl Casimer, First Nations Summit political executive.

“We are pleased that this changes today, and the Province of British Columbia is working with us in turning the page in our collective history and embarking on a new era and path for building a respectful and modern government-to-government relationship – a relationship built on recognition, respect, co-operation and partnership with a goal to improve the lives of our citizens and bring reconciliation to the forefront of society.”

No timeline has been established for when provincial laws would be amended to align with UNDRIP objectives.

The UN Declaration is a universal human rights instrument that includes 46 articles outlining the minimum standards for the survival, dignity and well-being of Indigenous peoples throughout the world. It has the support of 148 countries.

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