Local MLA Adam Olsen says formal enshrinement of a landmark international declaration on Indigenous rights into provincial law marks a necessary but insufficient step in reconciliation. (Black Press Media file photo)

Local MLA Adam Olsen says formal enshrinement of a landmark international declaration on Indigenous rights into provincial law marks a necessary but insufficient step in reconciliation. (Black Press Media file photo)

MLA says Bill 41 undoes legacy of discrimination, but calls for more action

Adam Olsen also rejects criticism of United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Local MLA Adam Olsen says the formal enshrinement of a landmark international declaration on Indigenous rights into provincial law marks a necessary but insufficient step in reconciliation.

Olsen said British Columbia’s decision to enshrine the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) as the first Canadian province and jurisdiction in North America creates a framework by which Indigenous and non-Indigenous British Columbians can genuinely collaborate.

“UNDRIP gives us the framework to do that,” he said. “Now, it doesn’t do that. It gives us the framework to achieve that. It’s still up to us. It’s still up to the politicians to develop an action plan. It’s still up to people who live here, the citizens of British Columbia to embrace it.”

Olsen made these comments in a year-end-interview with the Peninsula News Review. British Columbia first introduced legislation enshrining UNDRIP into provincial law in late October and the MLA for Saanich North and the Islands used the legislation’s various stages to discuss its historical significance for British Columbia, as well as its personal relevancy.

The bill received Royal Assent on Nov. 28 and broadly mirrors a federal private member’s bill that passed the House of Commons but did not make it out of the Senate because of the last federal election.

RELATED: B.C. Indigenous rights overhaul first job of 2020, John Horgan says

Olsen said during first reading of Bill 41 that it marks the first step towards undoing the legacy of laws that “took away our children, prevented us from voting, stopped us from hiring lawyers and protecting ourselves, imposed segregation upon us and implemented the reserve system.”

As the child of an Indigenous father and non-Indigenous mother, Olsen experienced this reserve system underscoring the personal significance of UNDRIP.

“I grew up on an Indian reserve,” said Olsen, a member of the Tsartlip First Nation. “I have a Certificate of Indian Status. I’m a product of the Indian Act. My family is a product of the Indian Act. My dad went through the [residential] schools that they [the federal government] created for the Indian kids. It’s very much part of the story line of who I am. But I’m also a mixed-heritage guy. My mom has German and English ancestry. So to a great extent, I am a reflection of that uncomfortable relationship [between the colonizer and the colonized].”

RELATED: MLA Adam Olsen says school strike on Saanich Peninsula was ‘toughest’ issue of his career

British Columbia’s enshrinement of the UNDRIP provisions makes B.C. the first Canadian province to do so.

But if historic, Olsen also tried to put Bill 41 into perspective. “British Columbia is the first to adopt [UNDRIP], but it has also been the jurisdiction that has had the most egregious and deliberate violations of the rule that the colonizers set for themselves.”

UNDRIP has received criticism from voices on the political right and the corporate sector, who fear that it grants Indigenous a veto right over resource development, with critics focusing on the concept of consent. Speaking in the Legislative Assembly, Olsen said this critique is a “myth” designed to “wedge” British Columbians against each other.

“Let me speak clearly,” he said. “Consent is not a veto over resource development. No rights are absolute.”

This said, consent is a much clearer concept than the more amorphous duty to consult. “So while it might be a more stiff task to get consent, it is a more clear determination at the end of it.”


Like us on Facebook and follow @wolfgang_depner

wolfgang.depner@peninsulanewsreview.com

Just Posted

The BC Ferries website went down for a short while Monday morning following a provincial announcement that recreational travel between health authorities can resume Tuesday. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries’ website crashes following provincial reopening announcement

Recreational travel between health regions to resume as of Tuesday

(Black Press Media file photo)
COVID-19 exposure closes Oak Bay pub, restaurant

Penny Farthing, Vis-a-Vis expected to reopen Wednesday after deep clean

Greater Victoria School District (SD61) Saturday announced a COVID-19 exposure at Oak Bay High School. (Black Press Media File).
Oak Bay High School subject of COVID-19 exposure

Greater Victoria School District (SD61) said possible exposure happened June 9-10

HMCS Corner Brook returned to Victoria’s waters for the first time since 2015 on June 10. (Courtesy of the Royal Canadian Navy)
WATCH: Navy surveillance submarine returning to Victoria waters

HMCS Corner Brook one of first submarines to receive new communications systems

A new multi-family residential project at the corner of Hillside Avenue and Cook Street will feature nine below market-priced units aimed at middle-income, first-time homebuyers, through a partnership between BC Housing and the developer. (Courtesy City of Victoria)
Middle-income first time homebuyers gain access to nine homes in Victoria

BC Housing partners with development community to create affordable purchases

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Darren Campbell’s truck (pictured) was stolen when he stopped to check on a car in a ditch on Cowichan Bay Road on Monday morning. (Facebook photo)
Vancouver Island Good Samaritan’s truck stolen in nasty trick

‘Try to be a Good Samaritan and my $20,000 truck gets stolen right under my nose’

The Kamloops Indian Residential School is photographed using a drone in Kamloops, B.C., Monday, June, 14, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former school earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Communities grapple with what to do with former residential and day schools

Some tear them down as a tool to help healing, others repurpose them as tools for moving forward

Creative handmade signs abound at the June 13 Tofino rally for old growth trees. (Nora O’Malley photo)
VIDEO: Tofino stands in solidarity for Fairy Creek Blockades

Over 150 supporters attend rally hosted by Friends of Clayoquot Sound

FILE – Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials watching U.K.’s Delta variant struggles, ‘may need to slow’ restart plan

Studies show that one dose of vaccine is only 33 per cent effective in preventing B.1.617.2 spread

RCMP Const. Shelby Patton is shown in this undated handout photo. RCMP say that Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over on Saturday morning in Wolseley, east of Regina. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, RCMP
Pair charged in Saskatchewan Mountie’s death make first court appearance

Const. Shelby Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over Saturday morning

David and Collet Stephan leave for a break during an appeal hearing in Calgary on Thursday, March 9, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
Appeal Court rejects stay for Alberta couple facing third trial in son’s death

Pair accused in their earlier trials of not seeking medical attention for their son sooner

Highway notices like this come down effective June 14. Public health restrictions on non-essential travel and commercial operation have hit local businesses in every corner of B.C. (B.C. government)
Province-wide travel back on in B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan

Gathering changes include up to 50 people for outdoor events

Calgary Stampeders’ Jerome Messam leaps over a tackle during second half CFL western semifinal football action in Calgary, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
CFL football will be played this summer in Canada

Governors vote unanimously in favour to start the ‘21 campaign on Aug. 5

Most Read