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B.C. first province to enshrine international standards for Indigenous rights

Last Updated Oct 24, 2019 at 5:49 pm PDT

Summary

B.C. is the first province in Canada with legislation embracing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) – A bill bringing in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous peoples has been introduced at the B.C. Legislature.

It’s a historic move: B.C. is now the first province to embrace the declaration, a key in the path of truth and reconciliation in Canada.

Traditional dance and drummers were welcomed into the house where usually MLAs and officers stand to celebrate history.

Premier John Horgan was emotional as he welcomed the bill and B.C.’s Grand Chiefs Ed Johns and Stewart Phillip into the house.

“Today, as an institution, this parliament is saying to British Columbians and to Canadians, and indeed the world, that we live here together, and we can can have a better future than our past,” Horgan says.

The past that includes residential schools: the government taking children from their families.

Cheryl Casimer with the First Nations Leadership Council spoke of why this move is vital in addition to acknowledging indigenous people were here first.

“They are the minimum requirements to ensure indigenous peoples’ basic human rights are respected and upheld,” she says.

The solemnity of recognizing the history that led to this kind of legislation being necessary was punctuated by moments of good humour.

Casimer remarked on the province making good on its promise to bring forward this law: “Did you hear it? The sky didn’t fall.”

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip remarked that it’s hard to believe this is happening.

“I’m sitting here thinking the next leadership council meeting I go to I’m going to say I had the most incredible dream last night I dreamt we were all in the legislature.”