With 9 years delay, Canada finally recognized theUN declaration on indigenous peoples. In 2007 the United Nations General Assembly adopted a motion to recognize the basic human rights of indigenous peoples including rights to self-determination, language, equality and land, among others. It also contains an article which requires the state to obtain the free, prior and informed consent (“FPIC”) of concerned Indigenous peoples prior to the approval of any project affecting their lands, territories or other resources. Only four countries refused to sign the declaration: Australia, the United States, New Zealand, and Canada. In 2010 Canada remained alone refusing to recognizing indigenous people rights.
Last week, Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett announced that Canada will become a full supporter of the document. The announcement comes even as the government continues to be criticized for long standing problems on aboriginal reserves, many of which have inadequate access to clean drinking water, have substandard housing conditions, and where suicide of youth has become a critical concern. The Liberal government of Justin Trudeau has said he wants to rebuild relations with Canada’s indigenous peoples.