Must Indigenous Rights Implementation Depend on Political Party?

Lessons from Canada


  • Sheryl Lightfoot University of British Columbia



Indigenous rights, Canada, Truth and Reconciliation Commission, United Nations, Free, Prior and informed consent


Canada and New Zealand were two of only four countries which voted against the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in 2007, before eventually moving to support. Since then, this declaration has influenced Canadian politics and practices, particularly the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 2015 ‘calls to action’, legislation, and subsequent action plans on both the federal and provincial levels. Different political parties’ priorities affect the implementation of indigenous rights policies. Nonetheless, Canada demonstrates the importance of normative change, outside of legislation or formal policy change. Norms of co-development, co-design and co-drafting create opportunities for indigenous peoples to have a say in policies that affect them.


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Author Biography

Sheryl Lightfoot, University of British Columbia

Sheryl Lightfoot is Anishinaabe, a citizen of the Lake Superior Band of Ojibwe, enrolled at the Keweenaw Bay Community. She is currently chair and North American member on the United Nations Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP). She is a former Canada Research Chair in Global Indigenous Rights and Politics, and is a professor of political science in the School of Public Policy and Global Affairs at the University of British Columbia, as well as a faculty associate in the Institute for Critical Indigenous Studies.