BC has formally entrenched the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People within provincial statutes.
The legislature passed Bill 41, the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act, which commits the province, “in consultation and cooperation with the Indigenous peoples in British Columbia … [to] take all measures necessary to ensure the laws of British Columbia are consistent with the Declaration.” The bill requires the government to draft an action plan and prepare an annual report on progress towards implementation of the declaration.
UNDRIP has been of particular concern to ranchers and farmers because of its potential impact on land tenure. However, the impact has yet to be fully understood. A defined action plan could provide clear direction from government, something farm groups feel has been lacking on issues such as archeological assessments in the wake of the 2017 wildfires.
Clarity on the province’s approach to UNDRIP’s implementation is something the BC Cattlemen’s Association would like to see.
“We totally understand and support UNDRIP, but there needs to be a clear path forward,” BC Cattlemen’s general manager Kevin Boon told association members earlier this year. “If UNDRIP is done right, it could bring unity to the province. But if it carries on the way it is, it promises to divide.”