(Ottawa,ON) – Yesterday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that a new federal working group has been created to review laws and policies related to Indigenous Peoples.

The Working Group of Ministers responsible for the review will examine relevant federal laws, policies, and operational practices to help ensure the Crown is meeting its constitutional obligations with respect to Aboriginal and treaty rights; adhering to international human rights standards, including the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; and supporting the implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action.

The Working Group will work with Indigenous leaders, youth, and experts on various legal and policy questions relating to Indigenous Peoples.

“Today, we are meeting the commitment we made to First Nations, Inuit and Métis, and to all Canadians to review the laws and policies that relate to Indigenous Peoples. The Working Group of Ministers – in partnership with Indigenous leaders and a broad range of stakeholders, including youth – will assess and recommend what statutory changes and new policies are needed to best meet our constitutional obligations and international commitments to Indigenous Peoples. Through this initiative and the other steps we have recently taken, we are working on a complete renewal of Canada’s nation-to-nation relationship with Indigenous Peoples,” said Prime Minister Trudeau.

Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde today said the Working Group of Ministers must work in partnership with First Nations to fully respect the rights of First Nations.

“A joint effort with Indigenous peoples to de-colonize Canada’s laws and policies is essential to fully realize our Treaty rights, our inherent rights, title and jurisdiction recognized and affirmed by Constitution and in international law,” said AFN National Chief Bellegarde. “Respecting those rights means this work must be done in full partnership with First Nations. Reconciliation requires a new approach to ensure federal laws and policies are consistent with all of our rights including those in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. First Nations must be engaged as equal partners and nations in this important work. The AFN sees this work as a key part of the permanent ongoing bilateral process with the AFN that the Prime Minister committed to establish on December 15, 2016,” said National Chief Bellegarde.

The Working Group consists of the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Jody Wilson-Raybould, who will chair the Working Group; Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs; Dominic Leblanc, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard; Jane Philpott, Minister of Health; Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development; and James Gordon Carr, Minister of Natural Resources.

As its first order of business, the Working Group will develop a rigorous work plan and principles, which will reflect a whole-of-government approach that addresses all Indigenous Peoples.

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