UN declaration to help First Nations achieve self-determination: Bellegarde


OTTAWA — The national chief of the Assembly of First Nations says passing a new law to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples will get First Nations closer to self-determination.

Speaking at a virtual forum organized by his advocacy organization to discuss the new law, Perry Bellegarde says the law has real potential to change the way the federal government treats Indigenous rights.

He says First Nations should determine how they want to engage with the work of implementing the UN declaration into the Canadian legal system.

The Liberal government introduced the long-awaited legislation in December, after a previous version died in the Senate in 2019.

The proposed law would require the federal government to work with First Nations, Métis and Inuit to do everything needed to ensure Canadian law is in harmony with the rights and principles contained in the UN declaration.

Bellegarde says he will advocate for amendments to improve the proposed law, noting that it now requires the government to create an action plan in three years and he wants a shorter deadline, or at least meaningful interim requirements.

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.