David Eby, Attorney General, and Murray Rankin, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, have released the following statement in celebration of Bills 18 and 29 receiving royal assent:
“Today, we took another important step to implement the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act. Two pieces of legislation have now become law, giving those who work in government, the courts and agencies like the Human Rights Tribunal clarity and guidance on our commitment on upholding the human rights of Indigenous Peoples.
“Last week on Nov. 17, 2021, our government introduced Bills 18 and 29 to further advance Indigenous human rights and reconciliation. Today, those bills received royal assent.
“Bill 18 adds Indigenous identity as a protected ground under the B.C. Human Rights Code, which will help us all to combat anti-Indigenous racism and protect Indigenous Peoples from discrimination.
“Through Bill 29, we have also added a non-derogation clause to the Interpretation Act. This clause makes it clear that provincial laws uphold, and do not diminish, the rights of Indigenous Peoples as outlined under Section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982. Bill 29 also requires that the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples be used to assist in resolving disputes over the meaning of B.C.’s acts and regulations.
“In the Declaration Act – which passed unanimously in the B.C. legislature two years ago tomorrow – we outlined the importance of including Indigenous Peoples meaningfully in our work to ensure provincial laws are consistent with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. That commitment was at the forefront as we developed these bills.
“Indigenous Peoples continue to be affected by colonialism and systemic racism. By working in partnership with Indigenous leadership to make these amendments, we are paving the way to a more inclusive, equitable province.
“We are thankful for the engagement from interested First Nations, Alliance of BC Modern Treaty Nations, First Nations Leadership Council, Métis Nation BC and BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres, as well as the contributions of Kasari Govender, B.C.’s human rights commissioner, Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond in her In Plain Sight report, and Ardith Walpetko We’dalx Walkem in her Expanding our Vision report. Their support has been instrumental in delivering these ground-breaking pieces of legislation.”
For more information on the legislation and its introduction, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/25753