British Columbia’s Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

The B.C. Government launched an online portal where the general public can provide comments on and feedback on the DRIPA Draft Action Plan, released on June 11, 2021. Métis Nation British Columbia (MNBC), the voice of Métis people, will provide input to the B.C. government. After a careful review of the DRIPA Draft Action Plan, MNBC wants to ensure Métis inclusion and priorities are met on the Declaration Act.

Here is a brief summary of the comments that will be submitted by MNBC on the Draft Action Plan:

  • The Action Plan focuses on the B.C. First Nations, without comprehensive inclusion of all the Section 35 rights holders in B.C.;
  • The Action Plan does not define the term “Indigenous peoples” as Section 35 rights holders, which would match how the term is defined in the Declaration Act;
    • Section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982 explicitly recognizes and affirms the existing Aboriginal and treaty rights of the Aboriginal peoples of Canada. Section 35 also indicates that the term “Aboriginal peoples of Canada” includes the First Nation, Inuit and Métis peoples of Canada.
  • The Action Plan excludes the Métis Nation on many key points, such as points 1.7, 1.9, 4.6;
    • 1.7 Demonstrate a new and more flexible funding model and partnership approach that supports First Nations to plan, design and deliver mental health and wellness services across a full continuum of care and to address the social determinants of health and wellness. (Ministry of Health, Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions) 
    • 1.9 Co-develop an approach to deliver on the BC Tripartite Education Agreement commitment: “The Ministry of Education and First Nations Education Steering Committee co-develop legislation that requires local education agreements (LEAs) with First Nations where a First Nation wants one, and that requires the application of the provincial LEA at the request of a First Nation.” (Ministry of Education) 
    • 4.6 Continue to strengthen and evolve the First Nation health governance structure in B.C. to ensure First Nations are supported to participate as full and equal partners in decision- making and service delivery at local, regional and provincial levels, and engage First Nations and the Government of Canada on the need for legislation as envisioned in the tripartite health plans and agreements. (Ministry of Health, Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions)
  • Inclusion of Michif in action points 3.5 and 4.21, where only First Nations languages are mentioned;
    • 3.5 Develop full-course offerings in First Nation languages and implement the educational Calls to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in the K-12 system. (Ministry of Education
    • 4.21 Support cultural preservation and revitalization by funding key projects designed to preserve and respect Indigenous cultures and revitalization of First Nations languages. (Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation)
  • Inclusion of MNBC and Métis history in action point 4.24;
    • 4.24 Reset the relationship between the Royal BC Museum and First Nations in B.C. by ensuring that Indigenous voices are prioritized and inform the development of narratives, exhibitions and learning programs at the Collections and Research Building and new museum in order to advance public understanding of Indigenous history, rights, cultures, languages and the negative impacts of Indigenous-specific racism. (Ministry of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport)
  • MNBC must be included on points 2.1, 2.2, 2.9, and 3.8.
    • 2.1 Create a dedicated secretariat to coordinate government’s reconciliation efforts and to ensure new legislation and policies are consistent with the Declaration Act. (Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation)
    • 2.2 Finalize the Draft Principles that Guide the Province of British Columbia’s Relationship with Indigenous Peoples. (Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation)
    • 2.9 Engage with Indigenous partners on issues related to conservation and biodiversity in B.C. including the protection of species at risk. (Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy)
    • 3.8 Collaboratively finalize and initiate implementation of the Province’s plan to address the Calls for Justice of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and the upcoming strategy to end gender-based violence, so that Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people enjoy equal protection against all forms of violence and discrimination. (Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General, Ministry of Attorney General, Ministry of Finance – Gender Equity Office)
  • Requesting further specifics, and more capacity funding, to implement action points 4.12 – 4.14 regarding Métis Children in Care;
    • 4.12 Co-develop a B.C.-specific fiscal framework, in consultation with Indigenous peoples, to support Indigenous jurisdiction over child and family services (Ministry of Children and Family Development) 
    • 4.13 Continue efforts to reduce the number of First Nation, Inuit and Métis children and youth in care and support increased family preservation. (Ministry of Children and Family Development)
    • 4.14 In collaboration with Indigenous partners, continue planning for long-term systemic change in the delivery of culturally safe Indigenous-led child care and improve access to culturally relevant child care for Indigenous families who want or need child care. (Ministry of Children and Family Development)
  • General agreement with the following points:
    • Implementing the Métis Justice Strategy, once approved;
    • Action point 3.1, to provide training across the B.C. public service and public institutions on reconciliation, Indigenous racism, and the rights of Indigenous peoples under the Constitution and legislation.
      • 3.1 Provide essential training across the B.C. public service and other public institutions and corporations to build foundational competence and understanding of the rights of Indigenous peoples, the UN Declaration, the Declaration Act, Indigenous history, treaties, Indigenous- specific racism, the dynamics of proper respectful relations and meaningful reconciliation. (Public Service Agency, Ministry of Finance – Crown Agencies and Board Resourcing Office)
    • Action point 3.13, providing disaggregated demographic data to Indigenous governing bodies; 
      • 3.13 Advance the collection and use of disaggregated demographic data, guided by Indigenous data governance, and support the establishment of an Indigenous-governed and mandated regional data centre and alignment with the Data Governance Strategy. (Ministry of Citizens’ Services)
  • Agreement with action point 4.15, to advance a government-to-government relationship with the B.C. Government, moving from short-term transactional agreements to long-term agreements.
    • 4.15 Advance a collaborative, whole-of-government approach in the partnership between Métis Nation British Columbia and the Province of B.C., respecting Métis self-determination and working to establish more flexibility and sustainability in funding. (Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation)
  • Inclusion of the MNBC Ministry of Education in the action points which commit the B.C. Government to improve the experience of Métis students in the B.C. K-12 education system;
  • The principle of “free, prior, and informed consent”, one of the main principles of the Declaration Act, is not defined in the Action Plan;
  • The B.C. Government is committing to a distinction based approach, as opposed to a “pan-Indigenous” approach, which will be beneficial for the Métis Nation;
  • Further partnership with the B.C. Government on implementing the recommendations of the In Plain Sight: Addressing Indigenous-specific Racism and Discrimination report, including collaboration on improving Métis health care services in the primary care system; and
  • Métis Harvesting rights, or even accommodations for cultural purposes, are not addressed in the Action Plan. There is also no commitment to discuss in the future.

MNBC encourages our Citizens to utilize this online portal to provide feedback on this crucially important Action Plan. Comments are now open until September 15, 2021.