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431-00183 (Indigenous affairs)

Paper petition

Original language of petition: English

PETITION TO THE HOUSE OF COMMONS IN PARLIAMENT ASSEMBLED

Whereas:

  • Canadian constitutional law is accountable to the human rights obligations outlined in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP);
  • Provincial and federal governments must follow the legal principles established by the Supreme Court and the constitution, which requires them to engage in good faith negotiations with the Wet'suwet'en Hereditary Chiefs;
  • Canada has also committed to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's report "Calls to Action";
  • The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination has called on Canada to: immediately suspend work on the Coastal GasLink pipeline until free, prior, and informed consent is obtained from Indigenous Peoples; immediately cease the forced eviction of Wet'suwet'en Peoples; prohibit the use of lethal weapons against Indigenous peoples and guarantee no force will be used against them; withdraw the RCMP and associated security and policing services from traditional lands;
  • Hereditary Chiefs have the right to grant consent, or not, for activities on their territories; and
  • The Coastal GasLink project has the potential to release massive amounts of methane through the extraction, transport, liquefaction and regasification processes.

We, the undersigned, citizens and residents of Canada, call upon the House of Commons in Parliament assembled to commit to upholding the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada's Calls to Action by immediately:

  • Halt all existing and planned construction of the Coastal GasLink project on Wet'suwet'en territory;
  • Order the RCMP to dismantle their exclusion zone and stand down;
  • Schedule nation-to-nation talks between the Wet'suwet'en Nation and federal and provincial governments; and
  • Prioritize the real implementation of the UNDRIP.

Response by the Minister of Northern Affairs

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): GARY ANANDASANGAREE

The Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations (CIR) would like to thank the petitioners for expressing their interest in the Wet’suwet’en Nation and the Coastal Gaslink pipeline project.

The Government is committed to reconciliation with all Indigenous peoples, including the hereditary leadership of the Wet’suwet’en Nation. Since 2015, our focus has been on the renewal and rebuilding of relationships based on the affirmation of rights, respect, cooperation and partnership. The Government also endorsed the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) without qualification in 2016, and is committed to its full implementation in partnership with Indigenous peoples and in accordance with the Canadian constitution. Our Government is also committed to introducing legislation to implement UNDRIP by the end of 2020. 

Over the past several months the governments of Canada and British Columbia have been in ongoing communication with the Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs on a path forward to deal with their concerns in a positive and substantive way.

The federal Minister of CIR and the British Columbia Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation met in Smithers with the Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs between February 27 and 29th and had frank and substantive discussions, guided by respect, on issues around Wet’suwet’en rights and title. These talks focused on two separate topics: the recognition of Wet’suwet’en Indigenous rights and title throughout their territory, and the issues arising out of the Coastal GasLink project. These topics were discussed separately. The CGL pipeline remains entirely within provincial jurisdiction and Canada would refer the petitioners to comments made by the BC Government with respect to that project.

With respect to rights and title, the parties signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on May 14, 2020, which launched a process to implement Wet’suwet’en rights and title.  This MOU establishes a path forward for discussions towards substantive agreements, which would describe future governance and the implementation of Wet’suwet’en rights and title. The MOU does not create, modify or implement rights and title, but does reflect a shared commitment to negotiate substantive agreements. Once reached, these agreements would be taken back to all Wet’suwet’en people for approval through a process that must clearly demonstrate the consent of the members of the nation. 

The Government is also working more broadly with Indigenous partners to explore new ways of advancing their visions of self-determination, consistent with UNDRIP. This can take place through the Recognition of Indigenous Rights and Self Determination process, which is an alternative to the treaty process, for addressing the interests of Indigenous groups. It encourages exploratory discussions and the co-development of measures, thereby renewing and strengthening nation-to-nation relationships between Canada and Indigenous peoples. It can also take place under the new Recognition and Reconciliation of Rights Policy for Treaty Negotiations in British Columbia, which were endorsed by the Principals to the BC Treaty Process on September 4, 2019. The new policy establishes a foundation for negotiations based on 1) the recognition that Indigenous groups have pre-existing rights, including title and self-government and 2) federal and provincial commitments to implement the UN Declaration. The goal of the policy is to fashion a reconciliation of pre-existing Indigenous and Crown sovereignties through co-developed agreements.

Renewing the nation-to-nation, government-to-government and Inuit-Crown relationships between Canada and Indigenous peoples, towards self-determination, is a priority for this Government.

Presented to the House of Commons
Paul Manly (Nanaimo—Ladysmith)
May 12, 2020 (Petition No. 431-00183)
Government response tabled
July 20, 2020
Photo - Paul Manly
Nanaimo—Ladysmith
Green Party Caucus
British Columbia

Only validated signatures are counted towards the total number of signatures.

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