Métis Belong in British Columbia – By Joe Desjarlais

Premier Horgan announced at a recent Assembly of First Nations gathering that there “is no more argument and debate about rights and title in British Columbia.” Horgan, the leader of the first province in Canada to pass the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) legislation, wants to achieve certainty. His government is preoccupied with control; they want to be clear about who owns the land and how to reconcile ownership within the existing framework of Canadian law.

On the surface, UNDRIP is about recognition of Indigenous land and rights. First Nations academics like John Borrows and Aaron Mills remind us, however, that for Indigenous peoples, “recognition” is not about fitting Indigenous law within Canadian law. Rather, the kind of ‘recognition” proposed by UNDRIP is the ability to represent and practice Indigenous ways of being on their own merits and in relation to other forms of being. I recently encountered this new hopeful way of interacting at a gathering at Trinity Western University where Sto:Lo leaders reframed the conversation around the contested term “unceded” with Sto:Lo concepts like love, relationships, sharing and stewardship that are informed by stories about family and community. Sto:Lo Grand Chief Kelly reinforced what Horgan (and other non-Indigenous leaders) sometimes forget: law and legal principles are not created in a vacuum; they are the outcome of relationship building.

To read this entire insightful paper, click here.

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