UNDRIP Task Force Provides Update Report

June 7, 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 People (UNDRIP) Task Force provided an Update Report to city council on the progress to date and the hard work ahead as Vancouver seeks to implement UNDRIP.

The UNDRIP Task Force has keenly focused on meeting the four themes of the BC Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act (Declaration Act):

  1. Social, cultural, and economic well-being
  2. Ending Indigenous-specific racism and discrimination
  3. Self-determination and inherent right of self-government
  4. Rights and title of Indigenous People

Through regular meetings, the UNDRIP Task Force conversations to date have emphasized the importance of enhancing the Host Nations visibility and voice on these lands, and sharing Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh history, cultural continuity, and status as Aboriginal rights and title holders with the general public.

For many years, the Nations have expressed the critical role truth telling plays in illuminating the ways colonial displacements and erasures have contributed to the relative invisibility of the Nations on their homelands. The UNDRIP Task Force has identified that public education is needed so that Vancouver reflects the Host Nations, and so residents and visitors understand the history of these lands. The task force prioritized actions to address this.

The work is ongoing and evolving. In October 2022, the UNDRIP Task Force will release a report highlighting the pathways forward for the City of Vancouver to use UNDRIP as a framework for implementing reconciliation in Vancouver.

“While the release of this report to city council is a milestone, we are just at the beginning of exploring what it looks like to implement the UNDRIP in Vancouver. I commend the hard work all parties have contributed so far. It is not an easy task to co-develop recommendations to implement such an important declaration, but through collaboration and mutual respect, we are setting an example that not only is this work indeed possible, but it is essential to the future of Canada.”

– Musqueam Indian Band Chief Wayne Sparrow

“The task force has started this important work and made significant headway. While we made progress, much more work needs to be done. The pathway we share this fall will not just have a marginal effect on Indigenous Peoples but will allow our people to have the full enjoyment of the rights articulated in UNDRIP.”

– Squamish Nation Chairperson & Task Force Co-Chair Khelsilem

“The Tsleil-Waututh Nation is proud to work with the Squamish Nation and the Musqueam Indian Band on the UNDRIP Task Force. As Tsleil-Waututh people, we maintain our identity by respecting our past and being mindful of our future by working with partners that share a common goal. The progress made so far is a positive step forward with the City of Vancouver, and we look forward to continuing the good work.”

– Tsleil-Waututh Chief Jen Thomas

“The City of Vancouver and other local governments have a lot learning and work ahead, towards Reconciliation and to advance Indigenous rights. I am grateful for the leadership of Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh. Vancouver’s UNDRIP Task Force is taking important steps through collaborative intergovernmental relationships that will make life in Vancouver better for Indigenous people and for all of us.”

– 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).

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.

Tsleil-Waututh Nation 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.