Why Canada needs to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

I remember the turmoil I felt when Tim Bosma, a young father from Ancaster, Ont., was killed. It felt so random, so unexpected, a man selling a truck goes out with buyers and doesn’t come back.

And I think what gave me such a sense of uneasiness was the fact that this could have been MY father. Bosma’s last name sounded similar to so many people I know. His church background was the same as mine. I can clearly picture my Dad going on a simple test drive to sell a truck. This was the first time I’d experienced news about violent crime that connected to my understanding of myself.

So when my colleague Shannon Perez sent me an article about the recent rise of youth suicide in Indigenous communities, I recognized how Shannon must feel.  Nearly every day, she sees someone in the news and thinks, “this could have been MY aunt, cousin, or mom.”

I wondered to myself what that would be like. What a heavy burden it must be to live with the uneasy feeling that every new story about violence against Indigenous people is someone connected to you (or if you don’t know them directly, you probably know someone who did).

And that’s why, as we head into a new government, implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (Declaration) as a step towards reconciliation is so important. Your heritage and identity should not dictate how much violence you experience.

Our current legislation is broken. If you want to know how broken I’d suggest you start with 21 Things You May Not Know About the Indian Act by Bob Joseph. The premise that Indigenous culture is worthless, and the resulting legislation that backs up that assumption, has created an environment for water crises, suicide and racism so deep that even a community-minded hockey player like Kristian Ayoungman can be killed while enjoying a night out with friends.

The UN Declaration offers a new framework for the relationship between settlers and Indigenous groups. The Declaration is the first step towards saying there’s a new relationship, there’s mutual respect, and a new way forward. This is why we’re asking you to join us starting February 26th in Lent prayers for implementation.  Join us today http://bit.ly/CIMCLentPrayers

This article was made possible through a partnership with CRC Ministries within Canada.


  • Victoria Veenstra

    Victoria Veenstra is the Justice Communications Team Coordinator for the CRC, working for the Centre for Public Dialogue, Office of Social Justice, and Canadian Indigenous Ministries Committee.

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