To the Expositor:
Adopting the United Nation Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) as Bill C-15 will certainly strengthen Indigenous citizens’ ability to raise legal challenges and combat discrimination, but it must be supported by a dismantling of harmful systemic racism. Indigenous people still cannot enjoy the full freedom of Canadian citizenship when many communities struggle with the lack of clean water resources or from barriers to educational, training and employment opportunities. The benefit of UNDRIP is that it expresses the uniqueness of Indigenous people, their ties to the land, spirituality and the necessity for self-determination.
It might benefit Canada’s relations with indigenous people if First Nations communities were granted self-determination; the right to establish their own self-governance and laws. They might then participate in a kind of Canadian “commonwealth” where their leaders represent their regions as ambassadors. Self-determination ought not to mean their nations would be excluded from any federal or provincial consideration or from Canadian citizenship. It would grant Indigenous communities the reassurance of territorial, environmental, economic and political sovereignty. Sincerely,