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432-00373 (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;
  • Canada has also committed to the Truth and Reconciliation 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:
    • Halting all existing and planned construction of the Coastal GasLink project on Wet'suwet'en territory;
    • Ordering 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 UNDRIP.

Response by the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations

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. On December 3, 2020, the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada and the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations introduced to Parliament Bill C-15 – An Act respecting the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

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 29, 2020  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 Aboriginal rights and title throughout their territory, and the issues arising out of the Coastal GasLink project. These topics were discussed separately. The Coastal GasLink pipeline remains entirely within provincial jurisdiction and Canada would refer the petitioners to comments made by the British Columbia Government with respect to that project.

With respect to rights and title, Canada, British Columbia, and the Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs 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 toward substantive agreements that 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 three parties are currently continuing negotiations contemplated under the MOU.

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 UNDRIP. 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 relationship between Canada and Indigenous peoples, towards self-determination, is a priority for this Government.

Presented to the House of Commons
Elizabeth May (Saanich—Gulf Islands)
December 7, 2020 (Petition No. 432-00373)
Government response tabled
January 25, 2021
Photo - Elizabeth May
Saanich—Gulf Islands
Green Party Caucus
British Columbia

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

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