The Action Plan
In November 2019, British Columbia unanimously passed the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act (Declaration Act) in the Legislative Assembly. The Province of British Columbia was the first jurisdiction in Canada to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UN Declaration) through legislation, recognizing in law the human rights of Indigenous peoples.
The Declaration Act established the UN Declaration as the Province’s framework for reconciliation, as called for by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The Declaration Act requires the Province to develop and implement an action plan, in consultation and co-operation with Indigenous peoples, to meet the objectives of the UN Declaration.
The UN Declaration is a “universal framework of minimum standards for the survival, dignity and well-being of the Indigenous peoples of the world and it elaborates on existing human rights standards and fundamental freedoms as they apply to the specific situation of Indigenous peoples .” The provincial government is committed to implementing these human rights in its institutions, laws, policies and practices to advance reconciliation and address the legacy and harms of colonialism on Indigenous peoples.
The action plan is also meant to help everyone who lives in British Columbia to understand the importance of reconciliation for B.C. and how it will help the province achieve its greatest social, cultural and economic potential.
The action plan will provide a province-wide, whole-of-government pathway for our journey toward reconciliation. It will describe the shared long-term goals and outcomes needed for the provincial government to meet the objectives of the UN Declaration over time, and specific actions that the Province will take over the next five years in collaboration with First Nations and Indigenous peoples. The action plan is being designed and implemented on the basis of shared understandings.
Draft action plan
To ensure the action plan is developed in consultation and co-operation with Indigenous peoples, the Province released a draft of the plan for feedback and discussion. This draft outlines significant actions that the Province and First Nations and Indigenous partners identified together and propose to work on over the next five years.
The draft action plan was built through a year of discussions with First Nations and Indigenous partners. It also drew from priorities identified through a variety of agreements with First Nations and Indigenous organizations and through advocacy and leadership from Indigenous peoples over many years.
The proposed actions in the draft action plan aim to support changes in beliefs, behaviours and systems that will begin to shift the status quo, address Indigenous-specific racism and establish new foundations of government that reflect the human rights of Indigenous peoples.
It is important to note that the draft action plan does not include all provincial initiatives to advance reconciliation in B.C. Further, while closely linked to work under section 3 of the Declaration Act to ensure laws are consistent with the UN Declaration, the action plan is a separate and distinct obligation. Actions proposed in this draft plan do not replace, limit, change or stop existing initiatives or related commitments. These efforts will continue alongside the development and implementation of the action plan.
The Province invited Indigenous peoples in B.C. – members and leadership of First Nations and Treaty Nations, Métis people, and Indigenous people living in urban areas and representatives of Indigenous organizations – to share their feedback on the provincial government’s draft action plan to meet the objectives of the Declaration Act. We welcomed input from a diverse range of Indigenous peoples, including Indigenous youth, women, Elders, gender-diverse and two-spirit people.
All of this feedback and input will be used to finalize the action plan. The final action plan is expected to be publicly released in Winter 2021/2022.