Indigenous peoples in Canada, and all Canadians, expect the federal government to uphold the admirable principles of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). But with the government invoking closure on Bill C-15, which would implement UNDRIP in Canadian law, many questions remain unanswered about the government's approach.
Some Indigenous activists have decried C-15 as ‘domesticating’ UNDRIP and making it subordinate to Canadian law. As well, given that "free, prior and informed consent" of Indigenous peoples is a central principle of UNDRIP, it is unfortunate a large number of First Nations, tribal councils and treaty organizations have not been adequately consulted on the very legislation that would cement this principle. Meanwhile, Indigenous resource development organizations have also expressed concern the legislation will negatively impact their ability to attract much-needed investment and business to Indigenous territory, thus affecting their economic rights. And resource developers warn that without clarification, Canada’s reputation as a safe and reliable investment environment for resource projects will suffer.
It is time to rethink Canada's approach to UNDRIP. That is why MLI has gathered some of the top experts on Indigenous affairs and natural resources policy, as well as Indigenous leaders whose perspectives need to be heard, for an online panel discussion on the issues.
Ken S. Coates, Munk Senior Fellow at the Macdonald-Laurier Institute, moderated a panel discussion featuring:
- Chris Sankey, Senior Fellow, Macdonald-Laurier Institute, former elected Councillor for the Lax Kw’alaams Band, Chairman and CEO of Blackfish Enterprises
- Heather Exner-Pirot, Fellow, Macdonald-Laurier Institute
- Melissa Mbarki, Policy Analyst, Macdonald-Laurier Institute, member of the Muskowekwan First Nation, consultant and operations analyst for natural resource projects in Western Canada