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In Canada, implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) is an opportunity to explore and reconceive the relationship between international law, Indigenous peoples’ own laws and Canada’s constitutional narratives.

In May 2016, Indigenous and Northern Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett addressed the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues at the United Nations and officially endorsed UNDRIP — without the qualifications attached by the previous government, which held the declaration to be aspirational and not legally binding. While this announcement did not change the legal relevance of UNDRIP in Canada, it does express the political will to begin implementation and signals that Canada may be on a path toward reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. Thus, the announcement also raised legal and policy questions about how the federal government intends to adopt and implement this soft law instrument.

This collection of essays reflects the recommendations of selected Indigenous legal scholars and policy leaders on how Canada can braid together a new legal framework through the implementation of UNDRIP, revive a stalled process of reconciliation and embrace a true nation-to-nation relationship with Indigenous peoples.

 

  • Oonagh Fitzgerald

    As director of CIGI’s International Law Research Program, Oonagh Fitzgerald established and oversees CIGI’s international law research agenda, which includes policy relevant research on issues of international economic law, environmental law, intellectual property law and innovation, and Indigenous law.

  • Risa Schwartz

    Risa Schwartz is a senior research fellow with CIGI’s International Law Research Program. In this role, Risa will examine whether international environmental agreements have the potential to trigger the duty to consult and accommodate with Aboriginal people and what this would mean for policy makers in Canada and beyond. Prior to joining CIGI, Risa was counsel to the Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs in Ontario.

  • John Borrows

    John Borrows is a senior fellow with CIGI’s International Law Research Program (ILRP). In this role, John will provide guidance and help shape the program’s international indigenous law research. He is also the Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Law at the University of Victoria Law School and the Nexen Chair in Indigenous Leadership at the Banff Centre.

  • Brenda L. Gunn

    Brenda L. Gunn is a fellow with CIGI’s International Law Research Program (ILRP). In this role, Brenda will explore comparative approaches and best practices for the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) internationally. She is also an associate professor in the Robson Hall Faculty of Law at the University of Manitoba.

  • Joshua Nichols

    Joshua Nichols is a fellow with CIGI’s International Law Research Program (ILRP), effective December 2016. In this role, Joshua will explore the potential implications of UNDRIP’s implementation for constitutional law.