Bills 18 and 29 celebrated receiving official royal assent on Thursday, Nov. 25. Previously introduced on Nov. 17, the bills added Indigenous identity as a protected ground under the B.C. Human Rights Code. This was the province’s next steps in advancing Indigenous human rights and reconciliation for the trauma they endured through residential school.
“Through Bill 29, we have also added a non-derogation clause to the Interpretation Act. This clause makes it clear that provincial laws uphold, and do not diminish, the rights of Indigenous Peoples as outlined under Section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982,” says David Eby, Attorney General, and Murray Rankin, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation in a provincial press release. “Bill 29 also requires that the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples be used to assist in resolving disputes over the meaning of B.C.’s acts and regulations.”
Eby and Rankin also addressed the longstanding systemic racism that Indigenous peoples endure. Despite the recent advances in reconciling these past horrors, there is still a long way to go.
“In the Declaration Act – which passed unanimously in the B.C. legislature two years ago tomorrow – we outlined the importance of including Indigenous Peoples meaningfully in our work to ensure provincial laws are consistent with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples,” they add. “That commitment was at the forefront as we developed these bills.”
Haley Grinder, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Columbia Valley Pioneer