Speech on Bill C-262 United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act

May 30, 2018

Mr. Speaker, before I begin I would first like to thank the hon. member for Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou for bring the bill forward and also for helping the students at John McCrae Public School in Guelph to get some textbooks into his riding. We did a switch between our trucks and it was greatly appreciated.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which completed its work in 2015, included UNDRIP in its 94 Calls to Action. As has been mentioned, the 43rd Call to Action challenges federal, provincial, territorial, and municipal governments to fully implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as a framework for reconciliation. The hon. member has done extensive work on that.

Thankfully, this government has already taken action to fulfill the call to action in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the principles in the declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples.

Article 13 states that indigenous peoples have the right to revitalize and transmit their culture to future generations, including language. This is why the government set aside $69 million to significantly enhance the aboriginal languages initiative. This funding will help develop learning materials, fund language classes, culture camps, and archiving.

Article 14 of the declaration states that indigenous peoples have the right to establish and control their educational systems. To accomplish this goal our government has set aside $2.6 billion over five years for primary and secondary education on reserve.

According to article 24 of the declaration, indigenous peoples have the right to access, without any discrimination, all social and health services. Canada has shown tremendous leadership and recognized a right to housing, allotting $40 billion to provide housing for all Canadians.

Stable living conditions must also include access to clean water. Since November 2015, 62 long-term drinking water advisories on public systems on reserve have been lifted. There are still 76 in effect. Our government has committed to ending boil water advisories by March 2021, and progress can be seen online at Canada.ca/water-on-reserve.

We welcome this legislation coming forward. I fully support the work of the hon. member and the goals to which this private member's bill aspires.