Canada: Senators must be there for reconciliation

Indigenous peoples’ organizations, human rights groups and faith communities urge Senate not to squander opportunity to pass UN Declaration implementation Bill

Tomorrow, April 2, is the next crucial opportunity to advance the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples implementation Bill, private member’s Bill C-262, toward its eventual adoption into law.
Indigenous peoples’ organizations, human rights groups and faith communities have all called on Senators to support an anticipated vote to send Bill C-262 to Committee in preparation for its final adoption so it can receive Royal Assent before the House rises.
“The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is the framework for reconciliation and the path to closing the gap in the quality of life between First Nations and Canada,” said Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde. “These are non-partisan priorities that deserve support by all parliamentarians and all Canadians. I urge all Senators to seize this opportunity to move Bill C-262 to its next step towards Royal Assent. This move will be a step toward a more fair and just country and an important step toward reconciliation.”
Bill C-262 is a private member’s bill put forward by NDP MP Romeo Saganash requiring the federal government to implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, including necessary reforms of laws and policies.
“Bill C-262 provides a clear and principled framework for the federal government to live up to its promise to finally address some of the most serious human rights concerns facing Canada,” said Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada. “Unfortunately, there is only a small window left for the Senate to bring legislation to a final vote before the current session of Parliament ends. It’s crucial that Senators not miss this opportunity.”
The House of Commons committee that reviewed Bill C-262 heard more than 70 witnesses chosen by all parties and only one of those witnesses expressed opposition to the Bill. Members of Parliament voted overwhelmingly in support of Bill C-262 when it was before the House of Commons last year.
“I can’t emphasize enough the importance of adopting Bill C-262,” said Rosemarie Kuptana, a leading Inuk human rights advocate and past President of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and Inuit Circumpolar Council.  “There’s wide support among Canadians and Members of Parliament for Bill C-262 and we’re confident that there is a high level of support in the Senate too. The challenge now is ensuring Senators turn that support into action by showing up for the critical votes to come. Indigenous peoples are watching.” 
Mariam Wallet Med Aboubakrine, the Chair of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, said, “With Bill C-262, Canada has the opportunity to set an important and much needed example of how the UN Declaration can be implemented through a principled and collaborative process. Indigenous peoples around the world are anxious to see this bill become law.”
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Lucy Scholey
Media Relations
Amnesty International Canada
(613) 744-7667 ext 236