June 21, 2023
In Recognition of National Indigenous Peoples Day, UBCIC Calls for Immediate Implementation of UN Declaration
(xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil Waututh)/ Vancouver, B.C. – June 21, 2023) As we celebrate National Indigenous Peoples Day, the Union of BC Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) also recognizes the summer solstice as a day of change and a time for renewal and focus. Today we are also welcoming Canada’s National Action Plan on the federal implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UN Declaration), and we call for urgent action to be taken by Canada to implement the UN Declaration into Canadian law and policy.
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, UBCIC President, stated “This year’s National Indigenous Peoples Day celebrations are marked by the alarming consequences of climate change driven by world governments that stand by with their money and hands in their pockets, while industries destroy our environment. The climate disaster is here and growing worse. Unprecedented wildfires throughout Canada began burning in March, despite being months away from the usual fire season. The smoke from the fires here is affecting people’s health as far south as Virginia – this has never been a localized climate issue. The climate crisis is a worldwide problem in cause and effect, and it is primed to worsen this summer and in years ahead. ‘Unprecedented’ is going to quickly become the precedent. We are at a crucial point in our history when implementing the recommendations in the National Action Plan to end the exclusion of Indigenous nations from decision-making over their lands, territories, and waters has the power to change our path.”
“Two years ago, Canada’s United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act came into force and Canada was given a deadline of two years to develop a National Action Plan. Today they are delivering on that commitment, and it is up to us as First Nations peoples to hold them to account for each action item,” said Chief Don Tom, UBCIC Vice-President. “This is a live document, and it will be an ongoing, and likely, drawn-out process, but these are growing pains that Canada has committed to in implementing the UN Declaration; we are looking forward to working to ensure First Nations demands are reflected in the National Action Plan.”
“Today and going forward, we must stand together stronger than ever as Indigenous peoples. We must celebrate the accomplishments and hardships that we have faced to get to this point; we have international, national, and provincial recognition of Indigenous rights,” said Chief Marilyn Slett, UBCIC Secretary-Treasurer. “The National Action Plan is a crucial step forward for First Nations in BC and this would not have happened without the amazing Indigenous leadership that helped enact the legislation in Canada. We are grateful to the leaders worldwide that did this work for the benefit of our youth, our future generations, our environment, and our land. We are cautiously optimistic for the work that the National Action Plan, alongside BC’s Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act, will allow us to achieve for First Nations in BC in accordance with our Indigenous legal traditions and respective Nations protocols.”
UBCIC celebrates Indigenous history and achievement on this day, and we encourage everyone to take some time today to learn about Indigenous peoples, or celebrate being Indigenous through the various celebrations throughout the province.
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President, 250-490-5314
Chief Don Tom, Vice-President, 604-290-6083
Chief Marilyn Slett, Secretary-Treasurer, 250-957-7721
UBCIC is an NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.
For more information, please visit www.ubcic.bc.ca