June 29, 2021 – The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) has finally received royal assent, officially becoming law in Canada. The Canadian Association of Social Workers (CASW) joins many other advocates and allies in Canada in celebration but knows that vigilance must remain.
“Our association has long called for the UNDRIP to receive royal assent, and we certainly applaud this excellent first step,” said CASW President Joan Davis-Whelan. “But, even more importantly, we call for the full and sincere implementation of this new law – while it’s tempting to breathe a sigh of relief, now is the time to get back to the work of reconciliation with renewed energy.”
The UNDRIP is an instrument that protects the individual and collective rights of Indigenous people that may not be addressed in other human rights charters and was developed through 25 years of deliberation by Indigenous groups and U.N. members. In 2007, the UNDRIP was adopted by 144 UN States, with Canada only one of 4 countries to vote against it.
“We are pleased that Canada has finally passed this document into law, but know it is no panacea. At the same time, we hear the concerns of some Indigenous people and communities that this law did not pass with the teeth necessary for real change,” continued Davis-Whelan. “Our association remains committed to holding the government accountable – and to the ongoing work of allyship, taking the lead of Indigenous people and communities and using UNDRIP as a guide. We have a unique opportunity to truly begin a new relationship between Canada and Indigenous people and communities – we can’t miss it.”