Lekwungen dancers perform in the B.C. legislature before introduction of historic Indigenous rights legislation, Oct. 24, 2019. (Hansard TV)

B.C. First Nations leaders worry U.N. Indigenous rights bill may be in trouble

Council hopes the bill can be passed in the legislature and receive royal assent before the house rises later this week

Indigenous leaders in British Columbia are urging Opposition Liberals to allow passage of a key piece of legislation for a new relationship between the province and First Nations.

The First Nations Leadership Council says the bill entitled Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act appears stalled in committee by continued Liberal questions and could expire when the sitting ends on Thursday.

The council — which includes executives from the First Nations Summit, Assembly of First Nations and Union of BC Indian Chiefs — says the bill has been at the committee stage since Oct. 30 and has been reviewed for more than 20 hours.

A statement from the council says some Opposition politicians are analyzing individual articles of the declaration instead of asking questions about its overall human rights intent.

The council hopes the bill can move to third reading, be passed in the legislature and receive royal assent before the house rises later this week.

ALSO READ: B.C. to be first to implement UN Indigenous rights declaration

B.C. is the first jurisdiction in Canada to begin enshrining the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

“There is significant concern that the approach being taken at committee is running out the clock and that the bill will die on the order paper,” says the statement from the First Nations council.

The Canadian Press

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