By Carole James
Twelve years ago, the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly. Its adoption was the culmination of nearly 20 years of international collaboration, including the active participation of Indigenous leaders and government representatives from Canada.
Today, the Declaration is a widely respected framework for recognizing, upholding and protecting the inherent human rights of Indigenous peoples around the world. It has taken far too long for governments to take action to ensure that the principles of the Declaration are reflective of a society that values reconciliation and an equal standard of life for all.
Implementing the principles of the Declaration, and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action, are central to our government’s commitment to meaningful reconciliation. During this fall’s sitting, our government will introduce legislation, which we are co-developing with the First Nations Leadership Council, to bring provincial laws into harmony with the Declaration.
This is important for all British Columbians. I grew up and have lived most of my life on the traditional territory of the Esquimalt and Songhees Nations. Indigenous teachings and influences have been around me my entire life, as they have for many British Columbians. It’s important that we teach today’s children about Indigenous history, and the ongoing impacts of discrimination, inequality, oppression, and colonialism.
Reconciliation is about more than words – it’s about real action. I’m proud to report that our government has made significant progress over the last two years. We are sharing provincial gaming revenue to support self-government, delivering on affordable housing both on- and off-reserve, investing in community-based language revitalization, and making sure that the care of children remains in Indigenous communities – where it belongs.
In this way, we are working with Indigenous peoples both to address socio-economic gaps where they exist and build foundations for a more prosperous future together. Reconciliation requires a continuous and ongoing commitment to engaging as partners in ways that respect the unique rights, interests and circumstances of Indigenous peoples to determine their own futures.
We’re involving First Nations on land-use planning and environmental stewardship, incorporating traditional knowledge into resource decision-making, and are making innovative agreements. Through these approaches, predictability, good jobs and opportunities are increased, while protecting our environment.
The new legislation is a significant and important next step that we are taking together on the path to reconciliation. Through this, we will establish a clear framework for moving forward. Reconciliation must be a thread that runs through the fabric of our society, that’s why we’re reaching out to Indigenous, business, labour and municipal leaders throughout B.C. to take this step together. Meaningful reconciliation takes time, and we’re committed to getting there with a plan that works for everyone in B.C.
This summer, First Nations in B.C. started signing up to receive their share of new revenue that will support self-government and self-determination, strong and healthy communities, and services that make lives better for families. Our government has transferred nearly $200 million to the newly formed B.C. First Nations Gaming Revenue Sharing Limited Partnership, providing the first two years of shared gaming revenue committed to under Budget 2019.
Meaningful reconciliation takes hard work, and we’re committed to moving forward with a real plan for a better future, for generations to come. Every person in B.C., and across Canada, has a role to play in reconciliation. Let’s work together to better understand our shared history, heal the traumas of the past and present, and build a brighter future for generations to come.
MLA, Victoria-Beacon Hill
1084 Fort Street, Victoria, BC V8V 3K4