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Report / Treaties, Rights and Title

The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in Canada: Lessons from B.C.

In November 2019, the province of British Columbia passed the first law in Canada aimed at implementing the United Nation’s Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People. This Special Report — with contributions from six primarily Indigenous authors — considers the promise of that legislation but also some of the challenges that have emerged, specifically around implementation. Hayden King offers some historical context for the Declaration and draws links between B.C.’s law and newly introduced federal UNDRIP legislation. Christina Gray’s interview with John Borrows explains how a Declaration works and imagines a resulting legal pluralism that braids Western and Indigenous legal orders together. Judith Sayers considers the B.C. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act (DRIPA) and outlines the mistakes that were made, but opportunities that still exist. Shiri Pasternak critiques how UNDRIP was incorporated into Canadian law, which may permit the ongoing use of injunctions against Indigenous people defending the land. And, finally, Darcy Lindberg looks to the courts, where the Declaration will inevitably end up, and considers the legal tools judges require to interpret the law. Taken together, this resulting Yellowhead Special Report offers both caution and insight for communities working towards realizing the Declaration in Canada.

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