UN Declaration Action Plan

[Photo credit: Photo by Christina Gray on July 18, 2021 in Prince Rupert, BC]

On June 21, 2023, National Indigenous People’s Day, the United Nations Declaration Act’s Action Plan (“Action Plan”) was tabled in the House of Commons and Senate. The Action Plan builds upon the Canadian government’s commitment to adopt and implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (“UN Declaration”).[1] Given that we have received an invitation to witness the event in Parliament, we are assured that National Action Plan will be tabled in Parliament by 5 pm on Wednesday, June 21, 2023.

Canada must ensure that Canadian laws are consistent with the UN Declaration.[2] The measures of consistency of laws and achieving the objectives of the UN Declaration must be done in consultation and cooperation with Indigenous Peoples.[3]

The federal government is legislatively obligated to complete the Action Plan on June 21, 2023.[4] In 2021, Canada enacted the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act (“UNDA”) came into force in Canada. The federal government is obligated under UNDA to develop an Action Plan within two years of Royal Assent and implement it.[5] Further, Canada must include the following measures as part of the Action Plan:

  • 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[6]
  • promote mutual respect and understanding as well as good relations, including through human rights education[7]
  • measures related to monitoring, oversight, recourse or remedy or other accountability measures with respect to the implementation of the Declaration[8]
  • monitoring the implementation of the plan and reviewing and amending the plan.[9]

The implementation of the Action Plan is part of the next step of the distinction-based phased approach of the Action Plan. In December 2021, the Canadian government launched a two phased distinctions-based approach to consultation and cooperation with ‘Indigenous partners’.[10]

Phase one began in December 2021 and ended in February 2023. As part of phase one, Canada identified priorities and potential measures for the Draft Action Plan. Phase two was from March to June 2023. Phase two included working with Indigenous partners on validating proposed measures in the Action Plan, including modifying them as necessary and identifying and filling in any gaps or adding measures.

Many Indigenous Peoples have expressed disappointment towards the process of consultation and cooperation of the Action Plan. Some of the frustrations that Indigenous Peoples is directed towards the insufficient amount of time in phase two to validate the proposed measures of the Action Plan. The major point of contention is that the process of the phased distinctions-based approach to consultation and cooperation with First Nation Partners.

Better approaches to regional co-development will need to be defined in the coming weeks in order to learn from the past missteps in this process of cooperation with First Nations and priority issues such as the obligations that the Crown has within historic treaties.

The Action is a culmination of the consultation and cooperation regarding the Action Plan between First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples and Justice Canada over the past two years. The Action Plan tabled in Parliament touches upon five main chapters, including:

  • Shared priorities
  • First Nation priorities
  • Inuit priorities
  • Métis priorities
  • Indigenous Modern Treaty Partner priorities

Over the next few weeks, JFK Law LLP will be releasing a series of blog posts about topics of importance contained within the Action Plan. Some of the topics that we will be publishing on our blog include:

  • Canada’s Action Plan
  • Action Plan and Treaties
  • Action Plan and Free, Prior and Informed Consent (“FPIC”)
  • Action Plan and Closing the Socio-Economic and Service Gaps On-Reserve
  • Action Plan and Dispute Resolution, Accountability and Monitoring
  • Judicial Interpretation of UNDRIP and UNDA in Canada

Please stay tuned to the JFK Law blog to learn more about what is in the Action Plan.

[1] Canada Becomes a Full Supporter of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples – Canada.ca

[2] Ibid, at s 5.

[3] Ibid.

[4] United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act, SC 2021, c 14, ss 6(4).

[5] Ibid, s 6(4).

[6] Ibid, at s 2(a)(i).

[7] Ibid, at s 2(a)(ii).

[8] Ibid, at s 2(b).

[9] Ibid, at s 2(3).

[10] Next Steps (justice.gc.ca)