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Open Letter to Justice Minister David Lametti Regarding UNDRIP Action Plan

Letters to the editor
By Letters to the editor
June 26th, 2023

Re: Feedback on release of UNDA Action Plan

Dear Minister Lame:

On the eve of National Indigenous Peoples Day, you tabled the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act (UNDA) Action Plan in Parliament.

Despite numerous requests for details of the release, and an express interest to be involved, the release happened without the representation and voices of our communities. The Congress of Aboriginal Peoples (CAP) has been an “Indigenous partner” and agreement holder with your department throughout the process of developing Canada’s plan to implement UNDRIP.

CAP and its Provincial Territorial Organizations have held many national and regional engagement sessions with our communities to receive input into the plan, have made multiple submissions to your department, and met regularly to advocate for the inclusion of our voices, yet the plan released is void of our content. The UNDA Action Plan released on June 20th wholly omits the content we have provided, and instead further cements the political distinction-based approach, and colonial and assimilationist policies of this government that UNDRIP aims to combat.

We write to you today to reinforce that despite Canada’s discriminatory policies, and despite political manipulation to ignore us, we remain united and strong. We are not going anywhere. Our Indigenous communities coast to coast, representing all distinctions, have given your department the information and tools required to act with respect to our Indigenous rights.

We have provided the pathway to allow for our communities to exercise their rights in a way that respects the UN Declaration this country adopted.

The exclusion of CAP and its recommendations are just another way to attempt to further colonize and assimilate our communities, who represent all Aboriginal distinctions, including off-reserve status and non-status Indians, Métis, and Southern Inuit Indigenous peoples.

This government is doing everything they can try to erase us and therefore misrepresent the spirit and intent of UNDRIP and UNDA.

Our communities are being left out of an opportunity for equitable access to our rights, reconciliation, access to resources, land, services, and culture and language, to name a few.

CAP calls on this government to support and uphold the rights of our communities. We demand of this government proper action to ensure that CAP and the communities we represent have equitable access to the measures included in the UNDA Action Plan.

CAP calls on the government to support and take action on all the measures provided to your department by CAP and its communities that were not included in the final UNDA Action Plan.

CAP calls on this government, and the Department of Justice to ensure that the voices of off-reserve status and non-status Indians, Métis, and Southern Inuit Indigenous peoples are included in the establishment of independent Indigenous rights monitoring, oversight, recourse, or remedy mechanisms.

CAP made extensive submissions on the need for Indigenous peoples to choose their own representatives in accordance with their own procedures, to maintain and develop their own Indigenous decision-making institutions, and to be consulted with and express free, prior, and informed consent through their own representative institution. This is in accordance with and speaks to the heart of self-determination.

CAP must be included in the establishment of the Action Plan Advisory Committee (APAC) that will work on the implementation of the shared priories of the action plan. A duplication of systemic discrimination, as witnessed in the proceedings of Bill C- 29 and the creation of the National Council for Reconciliation, must not occur again.

The communities represented by CAP’s Provincial and Territorial affiliate Organizations (PTO) across the country have inherent Indigenous rights and our voices must be heard. The Congress of Aboriginal Peoples and its PTO’s are interested in working with the Department of Justice and other departments to implement the measures included in the plan released today, and on additional measures not currently included. It is not enough to say that you are consulting and cooperating with Indigenous peoples, as purported in these documents.

The Government of Canada must listen, be inclusive, and take action from the input Indigenous peoples provide.


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