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.