The B.C. government has outlined 89 specific actions every ministry will take to create a better province for Indigenous Peoples.
The action plan, released on Wednesday, was developed in consultation and cooperation with Indigenous Peoples as the province seeks to bring government policy in line with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, also known as UNDRIP.
“This plan is a first for any government in the world. It will drive transformative change in the relationship with Indigenous Peoples and help us build a brighter future for everyone,” Premier John Horgan said.
“By working together in partnership, we are creating more opportunities, better jobs and stronger environment protections. This is a roadmap that builds on the progress we have made – a new way forward and another important step towards meaningful reconciliation.”
B.C. legislation tables historic Indigenous rights bill
In 2019, British Columbia was the first jurisdiction in Canada to pass a law implementing UNDRIP, which requires governments to obtain free, prior and informed consent before taking actions that affect Indigenous Peoples and their lands.
Its plan, called the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act, includes commitments to recognize Indigenous Peoples’ inherent rights, interests and legal orders.
It lays out a pledge to enable Indigenous Peoples to live free from racism and discrimination, share decision-making, and pursue new fiscal relationships.
The government also aims to train and hire more Indigenous teachers for the public school system and to improve Indigenous graduation rates.
“Make no mistake, there have been and there will continue to be numerous obstacles that challenge the work being done to revolutionize and rebuild a relationship that has long been mired in colonial violence and discrimination,” Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs president Grand Chief Stewart Phillip said.
“Today is not only a day of celebration but a day of reflection and accountability. We must hold our governments and those in positions of power accountable for their actions and their commitments to the Declaration Act. With hope in our hearts we celebrate, reflect, and continue the fight for change.”
Court of Appeal ruling catches Trans Mountain supporters off guard
Improving the health and well-being of Indigenous families and ending the epidemic of Indigenous children in government care are also priority parts of the plan, as is conducting an anti-Indigenous racism review in the education system and assessing the process for naming municipalities and regional districts.
Government is also required to work with Indigenous Peoples on reporting on progress on implementation of the plan through an annual report, which must be developed in consultation with them and submitted by June 30 each year.
© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.