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Senate APPA Committee Bill C-262

Letter to the Senate of Canada's Standing Committee on Aboriginal Peoples:
Immediate conclusion of deliberations on Bill C-262 and immediate passage by the Senate


6 June 2019

Members of the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Peoples
The Senate of Canada
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A4
by email to senators according to the list at https://www.peacemakers.ca/publications/SenateCanadaFeb2019-Senate%20Committee%20Aboriginal.docx.)

Dear Members of the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Peoples,

Immediate conclusion of deliberations on Bill C-262 and immediate passage by the Senate

This is further to our letters of 21 May and 23 April 2019 seeking immediate passage of Bill C-262, “An Act to ensure that the laws of Canada are in harmony with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.”

It is alarming that some members of the Senate continue to use procedural measures to hinder the Committee’s deliberations on Bill C-262. We remind all unelected members of the Senate that Bill C-262 was passed by the elected House of Commons on 30 May 2018 with a large majority. On 10 April 2019, after nearly a year of stalling in the Senate, the House of Commons passed a unanimous resolution pointing out that Bill C-262 had “been in possession of honourable Senators for many months…[and] should be passed into law at the earliest opportunity….” (emphasis added).

The Committee must act urgently to ensure that Bill C-262 is passed and upholds the full text of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) as adopted in 2007 by the UN General Assembly and endorsed by Canada in 2010, including the UNDRIP’s assurances of “free prior and informed consent” by Indigenous Peoples as set out in Articles 10, 11, 19, 28, and 29.

The use of procedural blocks to thwart the passage of Bill C-262 before Parliament is dissolved prior to the upcoming election signals unwillingness to remedy the most serious, ongoing human rights violations against Indigenous Peoples and indicates complete disregard of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Call to Action 43 which requires all levels of government to “to fully adopt and implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as the framework for reconciliation.”

Continued blockage of Bill C-262 by a small minority of unelected members of the Senate is alarming in the face of Canada’s severe, systematic and persistent violations of the rights of Indigenous Peoples and persons guaranteed by treaties binding on Canada, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political rights (ICCPR), the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), the Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), and the International Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD).

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) made a finding of “cultural genocide” in 2015. This has now been followed by a finding of genocide by the 3 June 2019 report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (pp 50-54) and a specific call that Canada:

    … immediately implement and fully comply with all relevant [international human] rights instruments, including but not limited to: […] UNDRIP, including recognition, protection, and support of Indigenous self-governance and self-determination, as defined by UNDRIP and by Indigenous Peoples, including that these rights are guaranteed equally to women and men, as rights protected under section 35 of the Constitution. This requires respecting and making space for Indigenous self-determination and self-governance, and the free, prior, and informed consent of Indigenous Peoples to all decision-making processes that affect them, eliminating gender discrimination in the Indian Act, and amending the Constitution to bring it into conformity with UNDRIP (Calls for Justice, pp. 176-77).

The Organization of American States on 4 June 2019 requested Canada to accept its offer of an Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts to investigate the allegations of genocide.

We urge all members of the Senate to insist that deliberations on Bill C-262 continue and conclude immediately so that the Bill can return to Senate before the Bill dies on the order paper.

Sincerely,

[signed]

Catherine Morris, BA, JD, LLM
Director, Peacemakers Trust

Copied by email to Senator Murray Sinclair, Senate sponsor of Bill C-262, and to members of the Senate according to the list at https://www.peacemakers.ca/research/Canada/SenateCanadaFeb2019.docx.

photo copyright Mats Flemstrom
photo © MF

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