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e-2396 (Indigenous affairs)

E-petition
Initiated by Christina Kovacevic from Galiano Island, British Columbia

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);
  • 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:
— 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 the UNDRIP.

Response by the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): GARY ANANDASANGAREE

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

The Government remains 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 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 without qualification in 2016, and has committed to its full implementation with Indigenous peoples and in accordance with the Canadian constitution.

The Government is working with Indigenous partners to explore new ways of working together and advancing their visions of self-determination, consistent with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Since 2017, the Government has been engaged in productive work with the hereditary leadership of the Wet’suwet’en Nation regarding child and family wellness. This has taken 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. 

Over the past several weeks the governments of Canada and British Columbia have been in ongoing communication with the Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs to find a path forward to deal with these issues in a positive and substantive way.

While policing decisions are made independently and free from political influence, we were pleased that the RCMP in BC worked with the Wet’suwet’en Nation to make operational changes to de-escalate the situation and make room for talks between the Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs, and the federal and provincial governments. We were also encouraged that the project proponent independently agreed to pause work on the Coastal GasLink project during in-person discussions to help make them possible.

The federal Minister for Crown-Indigenous Relations and the British Columbia Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation met in Smithers with the Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs between February 27-29th 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.

With respect to rights and title, the parties focused intensely on commitments to an expedited process to implement Wet’suwet’en rights and title. The result of these discussions was a draft arrangement that is being reviewed by the Wet’suwet’en clan members through Wet’suwet’en governance protocols for approval. Canada acknowledges that additional time will be required for the approval process to be completed given the challenging and unprecedented circumstances relating to the pandemic response and the social distancing measures being asked of all Canadians. We look forward to the results of their approval process.

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

Open for signature
January 29, 2020, at 8:30 a.m. (EDT)
Closed for signature
February 28, 2020, at 8:30 a.m. (EDT)
Presented to the House of Commons
Elizabeth May (Saanich—Gulf Islands)
March 11, 2020 (Petition No. 431-00152)
Government response tabled
May 25, 2020
Photo - Elizabeth May
Saanich—Gulf Islands
Green Party Caucus
British Columbia
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