Breaking with a tradition of bipartisan evil policies towards Indigenous peoples, the B.C. government now plans to update its laws to align with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, a resolution adopted by 148 countries including Canada.
It’s good news for Indigenous families and communities, but also British Columbians as a whole. Grounding our laws in Indigenous rights is key to building a more just, sustainable and resilient province. In the face of climate change, we need Indigenous peoples’ wisdom and culture to be brought back to the fore.
Now is the time to recognize that Canada was built on land theft and genocide and that oppression and marginalization of Indigenous people is ongoing. I am elated that this government is taking the major step of enshrining UNDRIP into provincial law. Reconciliation is about actions such as this one, not empty words.
Bill 41, the B.C. declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, is poised to pass this week, having passed first and second reading with unanimous support. This is exceptionally good news for all of us.
The history of colonialism in B.C. is becoming more well known. It is clear that we newcomers have profited greatly from the enormous wealth generated by the people and ecosystems of these lands and waters, while the original inhabitants have suffered immeasurable losses. Bill 41 gives us the opportunity to make redress as a society.
Bill 41 will assist Indigenous nations in the work that is already underway, rebuilding their cultures and languages. Critically, it provides legal basis for recognizing and supporting Indigenous peoples’ self-determination: the right to decide what happens on their homelands. Over time the economies and cultures here will look very different. I for one hope and trust they will be much more sustainable, and Bill 41 makes me feel much more optimistic about this.