The relevance and impacts of implementation of UNDRIP, particularly article 19 which states the following:
States shall consult and cooperate in good faith with the Indigenous peoples concerned through their own representative institutions in order to obtain their free, prior and informed consent before adopting and implementing legislative or administrative measures that may affect them.
This is of particular importance considering provincial, national, and international talks on combating climate change and developing strategies for curbing carbon emissions while equalizing global economies. A task many countries and leaders are struggling to reconcile, given current economic structures are so reliant on systems vastly contributing to growing greenhouse gas emissions. Alberta and Canada know this all too well.
Canada’s failures to respect Indigenous peoples has been documented through the Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (1996); Report of the Special Rapporteur on the rights of Indigenous peoples – James Anaya (2014); and Honouring the Truth, Reconciling for the Future – Summary of the Final Report Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (2015), just to name a few.
The Trudeau government’s National Climate Strategy process brings together federal, provincial and territorial leaders to chart the way forward for Canada on climate change leaving First Nations on the periphery once again. Prime Minister Trudeau’s commitment to have the provinces lead on some of these policies — for example the establishment of carbon pricing, setting a cap on emissions in their provincial jurisdiction, or investments in green infrastructure — is at odds with the federal government's commitment to ratify the United Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).
- The federal government devolves its fiduciary and legal obligations including the duty to consult over energy and climate policy to the provincial governments. Provincial governments assert jurisdiction over natural resources and extraction and by default climate change targets, carbon pricing and land management via the natural resources transfer act (NRTA). However, the NRTA itself was developed in isolation of First Nation participation and does not uphold foundations of UNDRIP including FPIC and erodes Indigenous control over Indigenous lands.
- The provincial governments benefit from this erosion of First Nations sovereignty by not recognizing the duty to consult with First Nations saying it's a federal responsibility, not theirs. This passing of the buck on consultation leaves First Nations in grey area of where to assert jurisdictional rights while industry and government continue business as usual.
- When First Nations raise alarms over concerns about resource extraction or climate change and their subsequent policies infringing on their rights, the provinces just pass the buck right back to the Feds leaving the rights of Indigenous peoples in a black hole.