UNDRIP Task Force Provides Final Report to City of Vancouver Council

Task Force’s calls to action the first in Canada

October 19, 2022: Vancouver, BC – Today, in partnership with Musqueam Indian Band, Squamish Nation, and Tsleil-Waututh Nation, the City of Vancouver’s United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) Task Force provided their final report and calls to action for City Council as Vancouver seeks to implement its UNDRIP strategy. The calls to action in the final report are the first of their kind in Canada. Should Vancouver City Council adopt the report on October 25, 2022, Vancouver would become both a national and world leader in implementing a clear strategy towards UNDRIP and reconciliation with Nations on whose lands and waters the city occupies.

Consistent with the BC Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act (Declaration Act), the UNDRIP Task Force has identified specific calls to action under four key themes:

  1. Social, cultural, and economic well-being
    • Calls to action:
      • Social
      • Cultural
      • Economic
  2. Ending Indigenous-specific racism and discrimination
    • Calls to action:
      • Environmental racism
      • Leases housing and land
      • Service provision
      • Policing
  3. Self-determination and inherent right of self-government
    • Calls to action:
      • Revenue sharing with the Nations
      • Disposition of City-owned lands/repatriation of lands to the Nations
      • Shared decision making
      • Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh inclusion on Metro Vancouver Board and other regional boards
  4. Rights and title of Indigenous People
    • Calls to action:
      • Inclusion of Indigenous legal traditions
      • Support for cultural practices and land back
      • Establishment of institutions for Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Members to learn traditional ways
      • Involvement and voice of the diverse Indigenous populations living in the city

The report will be presented to Vancouver City Council for consideration on October 25. The Task Force acknowledges the important work that Musqueam, Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh, and Vancouver have done to this point. It is rooted in relationship building, listening and open dialogue, with a clear objective to bring about systemic shifts and the necessary healing that is critical to our shared future. Adoption of this report and the 79 calls to action would be generational and transformative. Most importantly, it would help fulfil the Task Force’s goal to see Indigenous Peoples achieving full enjoyment, as a collective or individuals, the rights articulated in United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Click here to read the full report.

“With the presentation of this final report, Musqueam, Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh and the City of Vancouver are making history and demonstrating what can happen when we come together as truly collaborative partners. It won’t be easy to implement these calls to action, but it is necessary work that will be worth it. We encourage all local governments to take note of the work we are doing here in Vancouver and consider how they can work towards implementing UNDRIP in a meaningful way in their own communities.”

– Musqueam Indian Band Chief Wayne Sparrow

“The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is a framework for reconciliation. I am proud to present the first-ever co-developed strategy between a city and local First Nations to implement UNDRIP. This is implementing a key Call to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and becomes a road map for a meaningful and impactful relationship between Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh with the City of Vancouver that benefits all of Vancouver.”

– Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw Council Chairperson & Task Force Co-Chair Khelsilem

“I am thrilled by the release of the UNDRIP Task Force’s groundbreaking report. These 79 calls to action will guide the City of Vancouver to implement its UNDRIP strategy, ensuring that issues of well-being, racism, self-determination, and the rights and title of Indigenous peoples are addressed over time. The UNDRIP strategy is representative of the transformative work that is possible with government-to-government relationships between the City of Vancouver and Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations, and I hope this good work continues. A decision by city council to adopt this report will have a ripple effect on other jurisdictions across Metro Vancouver and the country.”

– Tsleil-Waututh Chief Jen Thomas

“Implementing UNDRIP is one of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls to action and is timely and important work for us as a City of Reconciliation. In Vancouver, Indigenous people continue to be overrepresented among those who are homeless and precariously housed and continue to experience negative health outcomes and barriers to participation at higher levels. The 79 actions within this UNDRIP Strategy will strengthen Indigenous rights, create new pathways for government-to-government relationships, and improve life for Indigenous people in Vancouver. It has been an honour to do this work alongside Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh leaders, and I look forward to continuing it in the service of current and future generations on these lands.”

– City of Vancouver Councillor & Task Force Co-Chair Christine Boyle

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The mandate of the UNDRIP Task Force is to collaboratively develop a report to advise Vancouver City Council on the implementation of UNDRIP in Vancouver. The task force is led by an intergovernmental steering committee composed of representatives from Musqueam Indian Band, Squamish Nation, Tsleil-Waututh Nation (the local Nations), and the City of Vancouver.

The UNDRIP Task Force will also engage with urban Indigenous communities, and invite the knowledge and input of technical experts, academics, Traditional Knowledge Keepers, and Indigenous community members with unique insights and lived experiences. The Task Force has appointed Co-Chairs by consensus: Council Chairperson Khelsilem (Squamish Nation) and Councillor Boyle (City of Vancouver). The Task Force was convened in March 2021.

Musqueam have lived in the Fraser River estuary since time immemorial. We are a proud and culturally-resilient First Nation of over 1,300 members. About half of our members live in a small portion of our territory known as Musqueam Reserve, located south of Marine Drive in Vancouver. Many of the remaining members live throughout Musqueam’s territory, including Vancouver, Burnaby, Richmond, Delta, North Vancouver, West Vancouver, and New Westminster. Our lands and waters continue to support our cultural and economic practices, while serving as a source of knowledge and memory, encoded with our teachings and laws. Learn more: musqueam.bc.ca/our-story.

The Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (also known as the Squamish Nation) is a unity of the Squamish Peoples with an uplifting culture, rich history, and exciting future. The Nation is an innovative Indigenous government that uses its resources to provide, guide, and protect the Squamish territory and Squamish People. The Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Stélmexw (Squamish People) continue to reside in the area now described as the Lower Mainland of British Columbia. The largest proportion of Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw Members live in several urban reserve communities in the present-day cities of Vancouver, North and West Vancouver and the municipality of Squamish, B.C. Over 47 per cent of the more than 4,050 Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw Members live on-reserve, and membership is determined by guidelines set out in the Squamish Nation Membership Code. The Nation has never ceded or surrendered title to its lands, rights to its resources or the power to make decisions within its territory.

səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nation (also known as People of the Inlet) is a Coast Salish Nation whose territory centres around Burrard Inlet in the greater Vancouver region. Tsleil-Waututh have a Sacred Trust, a responsibility, to care for and restore traditional territory to its former state. Today, Tsleil-Waututh is more than 600 people strong and growing. The community draws on knowledge from ancestors to remedy past wrongs, reclaim territory and traditions, and advance into a bright future. For more information on the Tsleil-Waututh Nation, visit twnation.ca/our-story.