Today is the 20th anniversary of National Aboriginal Day, a celebration of Indigenous culture in Canada. It is also a day to reflect on what still needs to be done to truly respect the rights and self-determination of Indigenous peoples.
Trudeau’s government has committed to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP). There is also the government’s pledge to include Indigenous peoples in the much needed review of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. However, more work must be done to recognize Indigenous rights and sovereignty, in particular communities’ rights to free, prior and informed consent on projects affecting their traditional territories.
Whether in traditional use studies, impact and benefit agreements, land use planning or wildlife management, the Firelight group works with communities to develop and implement best practices which respect Indigenous rights and sovereignty. As well we have supported communities as they develop their own initiatives of how best to protect their land and resources. Whether it be the Tsilhqot’in creating their own protected areas, or the Ktunaxa developing Indigenous guidelines for environmental assessments, we applaud these important assertions of sovereignty.
On National Aboriginal Day we are celebrating the communities we work with and reflecting on the hard work still to come. Across the country today people are gathering to honour Indigenous cultures and sovereignty. Check out the event nearest to you and join the celebration.