INAN Committee News Release
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Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs
Comité permanent des affaires autochtones et du Nord
For immediate release
The House of Commons Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs Presents Its 12th Report Titled Indigenous Land Rights: Towards Respect and Implementation
Ottawa, March 19, 2018 -
Today, the Honourable MaryAnn Mihychuk, Chair of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs, presented the Committee’s 12th report in the House of Commons, titled Indigenous Land Rights: Towards Respect and Implementation.
“The Committee travelled across the country to hear and listen to the frustration felt by Indigenous peoples about how policies pursued by previous governments have failed to meaningfully recognize and implement rights, including self-determination and self-government. The government has committed to taking concrete action to work towards reconciliation. This report identifies key measures that should be taken to end the delays and costs associated with the current system. Although much work has already been done, we must continue to make progress in partnership on this most important issue. I would like to personally thank all those who submitted briefings to the Committee along with the 89 witnesses who voiced their concerns and told their stories.” said Ms. Mihychuk.
The report’s 17 recommendations propose solutions to improve the federal comprehensive land claims policy, specific claims policy and self-government agreements policy. Notably, the Committee recommends that the Government of Canada work with Indigenous peoples to make these policies and the underlying processes more just, equitable and transparent. These ambitious recommendations are one more step towards reconciliation and the recognition of the inherent rights of Indigenous peoples.
The report addresses in depth current challenges in the funding model for the negotiations. After hearing that Indigenous communities have to go into multi-million dollar debt to enforce their rights, the Committee recommended that the funding models be reformed and that all outstanding loans be forgiven.
The Committee also heard that Indigenous peoples face significant delays in negotiations. For example, it takes an average of 18 years of negotiations to settle a comprehensive land rights agreement. The Committee heard that some negotiations have been ongoing for over 30 years.
These unacceptable timelines for the resolution of land rights stem from the Government of Canada’s adversarial approach. Rather than seeing these negotiations as an additional step in an evolving relationship, the Government of Canada has seen them as an administrative burden. The current approach is not consistent with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and as such, the Government of Canada must change direction. Reconciliation between Canada and Indigenous peoples must ensure that the inherent land and self-governance rights of Indigenous peoples are upheld.
The Committee wishes to thank all the individuals and groups who contributed to this study and shared their knowledge on the subject. This report, the result of a comprehensive study in which the Committee heard 89 witnesses and received 24 briefs, would not have been possible without their participation.
The report can be viewed online on the Committee's website.
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