Passing of Bill C-15 a milestone for Canada

The Centre welcomes the passing of Bill C-15, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act.

The bill will affirm the UN Declaration as a universal human rights instrument with application in Canadian law. Building on support for former Private Member’s Bill C-262, and in consultation with Indigenous partners, the new legislation requires an action plan with regular reporting on progress.

“It is a major milestone for Canada to have Parliament pass Bill C-15. I hope Royal Assent will follow soon, bringing this law into effect. After that day, I hope we never turn back to the previous era of denying that Indigenous Peoples have human rights, and we dismantle the racism and discrimination that has sustained these horrific practices, causing suffering and harm across generations,” says Centre Academic Director Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, Aki-Kwe. 

“UNDRIP is the framework for reconciliation according to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. After hearing more than 6,000 testimonies from school Survivors, it was clear that residential schools flourished under the denial of the dignity and human rights of Indigenous Peoples.” 

Bill C-15 is the third bill seeking implementation of the UN declaration in Canada. Former MP Romeo Saganash introduced two private member’s bills to implement UNDRIP in 2014 and 2019. 

“I applaud those who made this shift happen, especially the First Nations leaders in British Columbia. I want to specifically recognize Romeo Saganash. As an opposition member of Parliament, he did this on his own, facing denial and ridicule for many years. His commitment and diplomatic skill to build consensus and support in Parliament and across Canada must be acknowledged, and it was that of a residential school Survivor who never accepted the discrimination,” says Aki-Kwe. 

The legislation emphasizes the need for free, prior and informed consent, and recognizes that consultation with Indigenous Peoples is varied across Canada, due to traditional governance structures that vary from Nation to Nation. 

“Much will need to change now in Canada, and old colonial laws and policies will fall by the wayside. I want everyone to remember what brought us to this day—Survivors, families and Indigenous Peoples who stood up against mass human rights violations for peace, justice and dignity. In the years ahead, I hope we can find all the missing children who did not survive those schools, bring them home to their proper resting places, and ensure Canadians know the truth and pledge never to repeat it.” 


In order to help inform understandings and dialogue about the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act and UNDRIP the Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre has issued short commentaries on what some of the developments that are taking place mean, issues we may consider when reviewing them, and ideas about the work we must collectively do going forward.