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LETTER: In reply to MP Arnold

I would like to thank MP Mel Arnold for his response outlining what he has done for the Indigenous communities in the North Okanagan Shuswap.

The fact remains that Arnold and his party voted against adopting the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). UNDRIP affirms the rights of Indigenous peoples to their language, culture, self-determination and traditional lands.

While the wording in the bill may not be perfect or clear enough for Conservative members, and some language may need to be reworked, the bill has real promise. Justice Minister David Lametti’s office said the government remains open to any proposed improvements to the bill. If our MP is serious in his support of Indigenous rights, he could meet with the leaders of Indigenous communities across the North Okanagan Shuswap to ask how they would improve the wording in the legislation.

UNDRIP puts an obligation on Canada to recognize that existing rights have not been respected and the government must conduct business with Indigenous peoples recognizing that Indigenous peoples have rights. I hope to see an end to the colonial approach to taking Indigenous peoples’ lands without Indigenous consent, engagement and involvement. I fear that Canada is going to see more and more conflict and violence as Indigenous communities block resource projects they don’t want and that they feel are infringing on their aboriginal treaty rights. Indigenous land defenders, water protectors and old-growth forest protectors are currently being arrested and criminalized, moving us even further away from reconciliation, healing and peace.

Jane Weixl