Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, has written a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in support of Bill C-262, which would act “to ensure that the laws of Canada are in harmony with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples” (UNDRIP).
“As parties to the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement, I believe we have a common obligation to ensure that genuine reconciliation in Canada becomes a reality,” wrote Hiltz in his letter. “The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada has stated that the UNDRIP is key to this reconciliation.”
Canada officially adopted the UN declaration in May 2016. Bill C-262 would ensure that principles set out in the declaration are enshrined within Canada’s laws, and would require the Government of Canada to, in consultation with Indigenous peoples, “develop and implement a national action plan to achieve the objectives of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.”
The Anglican Church of Canada’s General Synod endorsed the UNDRIP in 2010.
In his letter, Hiltz references the statement he released in March 2016 in which he “asked that the UNDRIP be read in parishes annually on the Sunday closest to National Aboriginal Day” and that the declaration be “part of preparation for baptism and confirmation in our churches.”
The letter also highlights new positions created by the Anglican Church of Canada, including the Vision Keepers, a council of Indigenous elders and youth who monitor the church’s ongoing words and actions in regard to its UNDRIP endorsement, as well as the new position of Reconciliation Animator, a role that involves implementing the church’s response to the TRC’s Calls to Action, and working to ensure the church honours the UNDRIP.
“Our work is far from finished, but we are on the road,” Hiltz wrote.
Hiltz also noted the Liberal government’s progress in supporting the declaration, and Indigenous and Northern Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett’s remarks at the UN Permanent Forum, in which she stated the government’s intent to create a working group to review federal laws and policies related to Indigenous peoples.
“It seems to me that passage of Bill C-262 would be the way to make this promise a reality,” Hiltz concluded.