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Parliament Trustee Steers First North American Government to Implement UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People

July 29, 2015

The Parliament of the World’s Religions congratulates Parliament Board Trustee Mr. Lewis Cardinal for his work on developing the policy directives that has led to the government of the Canadian province of Alberta to announce a cross-govermental initiative to implement the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) as the new framework of Indigenous relations in the Province of Alberta. As co-chair of the Indigenous People’s Caucus of the Alberta New Democratic Party, which has formed the new majority government this May, Cardinal authored the Indigenous Peoples’ Policy Book that has led to this new government’s move toward implementation. Cardinal has pursued his long-time passion for working with Indigenous peoples to achieve equal rights, the recognition of Indigenous rights, and social justice throughout the province and Canada. Mr. Cardinal is also heading the Indigenous Task Force for the 2015 Parliament of the World’s Religions.
UNDRIP was adopted by the United Nation on September13, 2007, and advocates for the preservation and empowerment of Indigenous nations all over the world. The document forwards that indigenous people are entitled to all basic human rights set forth by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, are free and equal to all other individuals, and have the right to pursue economic, political, cultural, and social prosperity.
Alberta Premier Rachel Notley recently sent a letter to 11 cabinet ministers asking them to prepare a plan for the implementation of UNDRIP throughout the province. Its main goals will be to protect constitutional rights and aboriginal land, to reduce racial/ethnic discrimination in the hiring process, to introduce a mandatory indigenous education curriculum in schools, and to return sacred ceremonial objects to indigenous societies from around the world.
Alberta is the first government to implement UNDRIP anywhere in Canada, North America, and perhaps the world, which will significantly affect the relational dynamic between Indigenous peoples and Albertans. The Parliament sincerely hopes that enacting UNDRIP will set an example and inspire the rest of the world will follow in order to achieve a more peaceful, just, and sustainable future.