CANADA/TURTLE ISLAND: Members of CPT Canada meet with Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations & Northern Affairs on UNDRIP

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CPTnet
17 November 2017
CANADA/TURTLE
ISLAND: Members of CPT Canada meet with Minister of Crown-Indigenous
Relations & Northern Affairs on UNDRIP

by Robin Buyers

On
November 13th, Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) Canada Coordinator,
Rachelle Friesen, and reservists Esther Townshend and Robin Buyers met
with Carolyn Bennett, Canada’s Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations
& Northern Affairs. Following up on CPT’s co-sponsorship of this
spring’s Pilgrimage for Indigenous Rights and fall Fast, Friesen,
Townsend, and Buyers urged the Minister and her Liberal government to
vote yes this December 4th for Bill
C-262: An Act to ensure that the laws of Canada are consistent with
the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

(UNDRIP)
.

Minister
Bennett and her staff welcomed our delegation graciously. She spoke
of her desire to “accelerate steps towards reconcili-action.”
She noted the importance of responding to UNDRIP
with domestic legislation that allows for the work of “reconstituting
nations” who then define their own identity and relationship to
Canada. She suggested that, for some, Bill C-262 does not go far
enough, and anticipated a vigorous House of Commons debate on how to
implement UNDRIP on the 4th.

According
to Bennett, the Liberal government plans to put forward their own
legislation based on rights recognition under Section 35 of the
Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which guarantees
Treaty and other Aboriginal rights. A Working
Group of Ministers
including Bennett was
established 8 months ago to “work with Indigenous leaders,
youth, and experts on various legal and policy questions relating to
Indigenous Peoples.”

CPTers meet with Carolyn Bennett
Photo (from left to right): Carolyn Bennett, Robin Buyers, Rachelle Friesen, Esther Townshend

Two
months later, Working Group Chair, Justice Minister and Attorney
General of Canada Jody Wilson-Raybould laid out 10 non-binding
principles
respecting the Government of Canada’s relationship with Indigenous
peoples
. When asked about current timelines,
however, Minister Bennett was not able to provide Monday’s delegates
with any specifics on when we might expect to see Liberal legislation
to implement UNDRIP

Friesen
commended Minister Bennett and her government for taking steps to
establish a whole-of-government approach. But she pointed out that
supporting MP Romeo Saganash’s Private Members Bill would not only
honour Saganash’s more than two decades of work on UNDRIP as a
leader of the Cree People, but demonstrate that the implementation of
UNDRIP in Canada should be supported by Parliamentarians from
all parties.

Friesen
referenced Liberal support while in opposition for a similar Private
Members Bill tabled by Saganash, as well as support for the current
Bill by Liberal MP Robert Falcon-Ouelette (Winnipeg Centre) In making
his November 4th announcement, Falcon-Ouelette acknowledged that he
was responding to support for C-262 from his constituents. CPT
Reservist and Mennonite Church of Canada CPT Steering Committee
representative Steve Heinrichs stood by his side.

Because
we believe that Bill C-262 offers the necessary legislative, binding
framework in Canadian law for getting started now on the
implementation of UNDRIP, CPT Canada supporters will be
joining our voices with Indigenous, Christian, and other civil
society partners in asking all Members of Parliament to vote their
conscience and, on December 4th, support Bill C-262.

As
Anishnaabekwe cultural educator and longstanding friend to CPT’s
Indigenous Peoples Solidarity Team, Kaaren Dannenmann puts it,
supporting Bill C-262 “is important for all people and is the
right thing to do.”

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