Statement from the NIEDB on the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

The National Indigenous Economic Development Board (NIEDB) welcomes the Government of Canada’s commitment to renew the relationship between Canada and Indigenous Peoples and to move forward with reconciliation based on recognition of rights, respect, and partnership with Indigenous peoples.

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) sets out a standard to be achieved in the spirit of partnership and mutual respect that marks Canada’s stated commitment to reconciliation. The Declaration describes forty-six articles by which the international community, and Canada as a signatory, can work to achieve Indigenous socio-economic equality and end the systemic racism which has limited the development of Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples for too long.

Among the articles, and of particular interest to the NIEDB , is Article 3 which states: “Indigenous peoples have the right to self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.” Indigenous self-determination is foundational to the NIEDB vision of vibrant Indigenous economies – which are characterized by economic self-sufficiency and socio-economic equality with the rest of Canada.

To achieve self-determination however, the right conditions for success are essential. Therefore, the NIEDB recommends that the Government of Canada take all necessary steps to ensure that the standards set out in the declaration are met and that it report annually on its progress towards this goal. Specifically Canada should ensure that: (1) Indigenous peoples have equal economic opportunities in community development, in education, in employment, and in access to capital; (2) Indigenous communities have equal access to health care, to clean water, to safe and reliable housing, and to healthy, affordable food; and (3) it work in mutual partnership with Indigenous peoples to develop legislative and policy alternatives to the Indian Act that would give further expression to the governance powers of Indigenous peoples and how they coexist with the powers of the federal, provincial and territorial governments.

Reconciliation aspires to a vision of Canada wherein all Canadians live together in dignity, peace, and prosperity. To achieve this vision, the Government of Canada must take bold, immediate action and make meaningful investments to end the economic marginalization of Indigenous peoples. Each Indigenous community and each nation is different, characterized by unique challenges, priorities, and expectations. In order to make real progress toward Indigenous self-determination, the Government must work with each community and nation individually.

We believe that by taking actions that are meaningful, measurable, and concrete, Canada can demonstrate its commitment to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and improve economic outcomes for all Canadians.

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