UNDRIP Becomes Federal Law

Excerpted from a post by Annie Korver, Principal, Rise Consulting

Sometimes you hear me say “this is a big deal”.

This is a big deal.

What’s the news?

As of June 21st, 2021 Bill C-15, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act (UNDRIP Act) was passed into law by the Senate of Canada. This marks a historic milestone for Indigenous Peoples and all Canadians on the path toward reconciliation (CBC, 2021), as well as the overall implementation of UNDRIP in Canada. (Osler, Hoskins, and Harcourt, 2021).

UNDRIP in Canada

It has been a long journey for UNDRIP in Canada. UNDRIP was drafted in 2007 by the United Nations for the purpose of recognizing the basic human rights of Indigenous Peoples along with their rights to self-determination (CBC, 2019). Indigenous human rights were not accounted for in the drafting of the 1946 Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) (Indigenous Corporate Training Inc, 2014). Canada was initially opposed to this legislation due to the free, prior, and informed consent (FPIC) provisions within the Declaration that were not consistent with Canadian law at the time.

In 2016 Canada formally endorsed UNDRIP and has recently recognized it as a “universal international human rights instrument with application in Canadian law” (Osler, 2021). At present, the Declaration is the most comprehensive international instrument that advocates for “the minimum standards for the survival, dignity and well-being of the indigenous peoples of the world” (United Nations, 2021). While the Declaration has “application” in Canadian law, it is not intended to establish new legal principles in Canadian law (Osler, Hoskin, and Harcourt, 2021).

The government of Canada will be required and expected to ensure Canadian laws are consistent with the 46 articles identified in UNDRIP, and to do so in consultation and cooperation with Indigenous people. Annual updates from the Government of Canada will be accessible to the public to share progress on the implementation of UNDRIP in Canada, to ensure consistency between UNDRIP and Canadian laws, and to ensure accountability and transparency from the Government to the public on following through with their action plan to implement UNDRIP.

“What we’re trying to do is treat FPIC as a process, which I think is true to the wording in the declaration itself, and really put the onus on non-Indigenous governments, non-Indigenous resource developers, private industry, whoever — to meaningfully consult with Indigenous Peoples in whatever context is appropriate.” Justice Minister, David Lametti (CBC, 2021).

What does this mean for you?

  1. As we respond to our call to reconciliation with purposeful actions, the momentum and importance of our work, will continue to build.
  2. The implementation of UNDRIP will lead to increased momentum with relationship, including formal partnership and Indigenous equity ownership.
  3. New legislative and policy developments and changes to current consultation approaches are likely to be considered by the federal government as UNDRIP is implemented through the government’s action plan.
  4. Where a proposed project triggers the application of any federal laws, a more robust and proactive consultation process with potentially affected Indigenous groups may be required (Osler, 2021).


Osler, Hoskin, and Harcourt LLP:

United Nations:

Indigenous Corporate Training Inc.


Department of Justice:

MLT Atkins:

Nature Canada:

Wilson Center: