By Jake Cardinal, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
(ANNews) – This month, a motion was submitted in Vancouver to see the city implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).
If the motion submitted by Coun. Christine Boyle is successful then leadership from Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh — the three First Nations territories where Vancouver now exists — will come together with city representatives to develop an action plan on the actual implementation in legislation.
“We are encouraged that the City of Vancouver is taking steps from merely adoption of the UN Declaration to implementation,” stated Judy Wilson, Secretary-Treasurer of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs. “We hope that the recommendations produced by the committee proposed in this motion will be heeded by City leadership, and we call on all other municipalities in B.C. to pass a similar motion.”
Similarly, the government of British Columbia passed legislation in late 2019 that saw the province align itself with UNDRIP. Implementation is among the 94 calls to action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which called for it to happen at the federal, provincial/territorial and municipal levels.
“In the era of reconciliation, it only makes sense for municipal governments to adopt the UN Declaration both in policy and in their conduct,” said Regional Chief Terry Teegee. “I am very pleased to see the City of Vancouver build on its long-term commitments to advance Indigenous rights by adopting this motion. This is a distinct opportunity for Vancouver to lead the way, provincially and nationally, as a progressive city.”
Robert Phillips of the First Nations Summit also spoke on the motion, saying, “The City of Vancouver has worked diligently to build positive and constructive relationships with the xʷməθkwəy̓ əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and səl̓ ílwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations as well as the urban Indigenous population. We commend Mayor Stewart and Vancouver Council for taking the next step towards reconciliation by implementing UNDRIP at the municipal level. In doing so, they have become a model for other municipal governments in BC and across Canada.”
The First Nations Leadership Council (FNLC) issued a press release which outlined the historical significance of the proposed implementation and the importance of committing to the critical work.
“It must be recognized that ongoing colonization continues to create harm for Indigenous Peoples within the City of Vancouver, and in broader society. This is sadly apparent in the recent violent arrest of Indigenous Youth showing solidarity with water protectors opposed to Line 3 by the Vancouver Police Department. At the heart of this issue is the Free, Prior and Informed consent of Indigenous Peoples regarding resource projects affecting their Lands and stewardship obligations,” stated the FNLC.
“We urge the City of Vancouver, in this and other issues affecting Indigenous Peoples in the City, to act in accordance with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.”