August 9th marks the tenth anniversary of the signing of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). The Declaration is the most comprehensive international instrument on the rights of indigenous peoples. It embodies global consensus on the rights of indigenous peoples and establishes a universal framework of minimum standards for their survival, dignity and well-being. It elaborates on existing human rights standards and fundamental freedoms, as they apply to the specific situation of Indigenous peoples.
The 16th Legislative Assembly unanimously passed a motion to recognize and support the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in February of 2008. The Northwest Territories was the first jurisdiction in Canada to support UNDRIP. The Government of Canada became a full supporter of the declaration, without qualification on May 10, 2016.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada recommended that federal, provincial, and territorial governments look to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as a framework for reconciliation in Canada. The NWT Human Rights Commission supports the reconciliation process identified in the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action.
This historic milestone serves as a reminder that much remains to be done to close the gap between the formal recognition of the rights of Indigenous peoples and effective policies to implement those rights. The Commission has committed to work restoratively with individuals and organizations to recognize and protect the unique identities and rights of Indigenous peoples in the Northwest Territories.