NDP Statement on Historic Vote in House of Commons Affirming the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

NDP Reconciliation Critic, Romeo Saganash, made the following statement on the passage of his Private Member’s Bill C-262 today in the House of Commons. The Bill will now proceed to the Senate.

“In September 2007, the UN General Assembly adopted the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. It was such an important moment in the history of the United Nations, and also in the history of 400 million Indigenous People throughout more than 70 countries. Today, I would suggest, is an equally important moment for this Parliament, for Indigenous Peoples, and indeed for all Canadians in this country. Bill C-262 is probably the most important bill Parliament has considered in a long time.

It is important, because Human Rights instruments like the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples forge proper relationships and partnerships between governments and Indigenous Peoples.

I am saying that Canadians want reconciliation. They believe in the importance of justice for Indigenous Peoples in Canada. It is 2018 and Canadians believe that it is finally time to recognize that Indigenous rights are also human rights. A country such as Canada must adopt the rights enshrined in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

I want to express my thanks to the many Indigenous and non-Indigenous organizations and communities across this country that have supported and endorsed Bill C-262 through resolution.

There cannot be reconciliation in the absence of justice. I spent 10 years in residential school. I should have been bitter the rest of my life because of that, because it was not my choice to go. I was forced. However, when I came out of the residential school, I set out to reconcile with the people who put me away. Bill C-262 is all about that reconciliation. Today, I extend a hand to all Members of Parliament and to all Canadians across the country who voted for and supported justice, reconciliation and what is fundamentally right.

In the 151st year of this country all Canadians have a momentous occasion to continue doing the right thing when it comes to the fundamental rights of Indigenous Peoples.”