Answering years of calls and activism by Indigenous groups, BC introduces sweeping legislation to implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The BC Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples calls on the provincial government to bring provincial laws into harmony with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (commonly referred to as UNDRIP). UNDRIP articles include important rights with respect to culture, land, and the inherent right to self-determination It also sets out the minimum standards for the survival and dignity of Indigenous peoples.

This legislation introduced on October 24 in the BC legislature would ensure that Indigenous people in BC enjoy the same rights and protections as non-Indigenous people in the province. For the first time in Canadian history, Indigenous communities will be brought into decision-making at the ground level when a project, law, or investment impacts them, and not as an afterthought.

As a feminist legal organization working on the unceded homelands of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations, we often grapple with the limits of the colonial legal system. The legal system we work with was developed to uphold colonialism and thereby often does not provide adequate avenues for enforcing the most important inherent rights. What is needed is a full transformation of our legal system.

Take, for example, our recent report, Pathways in a Forest: Indigenous Guidance on Prevention-based Child Welfare, in which we heard from Indigenous caregivers who had engagement with the child welfare system. It is clear that self-determination is essential to make child welfare work for Indigenous families, including the rights of Indigenous peoples to self-govern, maintain their own institutions, and develop and administer their own economic and social programs.

The articles of UNDRIP set up a strong framework for self-determination and for the realization of a child welfare system that works for Indigenous peoples. This is a critical step to ensure the human rights of Indigenous communities, families, and children are respected and uplifted.

The potential impact of this legislation on all areas of life for Indigenous peoples in BC is significant. Please join us in celebrating this historic occasion.

To learn more about Indigenous calls for self-determination in the context of child welfare, read our Pathways in a Forest report and share it in your networks on Facebook and Twitter.