Time for ‘rights-based approach’ to Indigenous affairs, PM Trudeau says


OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is planning to overhaul the way the federal government relates to Indigenous Peoples, proposing a new legislative framework designed to pave the way towards stronger rights and greater control over their own destiny.

“We need to both recognize and implement Indigenous rights,” Trudeau said Wednesday in a speech in the House of Commons.

“Because the truth is, until we get this part right, we won’t have lasting success on the concrete outcomes that we know mean so much to people.”

The prime minister said the new approach, to be developed in partnership with First Nations, Metis and Inuit, is needed to tackle the many challenges facing their communities, including overcrowded housing, unsafe drinking water and high rates of suicide among Indigenous youth.

“All of these things demand real, positive action — action that must include the full recognition and implementation of Indigenous rights,” Trudeau said. “We need to get to a place where Indigenous Peoples in Canada are in control of their own destiny, making their own decisions about the future.”

The new Recognition and Implementation of Indigenous Rights Framework — to be unveiled later this year following consultations led by Carolyn Bennett, the minister for Crown-Indigenous relations, and Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould — will include new legislation.

“This framework gives us the opportunity to build new mechanisms to recognize Indigenous governments and ensure rigorous, full and meaningful implementation of treaties and other agreements,” he said.

It would allow the federal government to find new ways to help Indigenous communities rebuild, including through self-government, and could lead to new, more collaborative ways to resolve disputes.

Trudeau said it will not, however, require reopening the Constitution, where Section 35 already recognizes these rights.

That recognition, Trudeau acknowledged, came only after the “outspoken advocacy” of Indigenous Peoples, since the Liberal government at the time, led …read more

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