DRIPA and Local Governments

In November 2019, the provincial government adopted the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People’s Act (“DRIPA”). Aimed at reconciling Indigenous rights with provincial legislation, DRIPA has potentially far-reaching effects, and has been the source of much speculation and debate as to its impact on the various levels of government including local government.

This paper will review some of the more significant aspects of DRIPA and identify the ways in which it has, and might, impact local governments. Reviewing DRIPA will necessarily involve covering the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (“UNDRIP”), on which DRIPA is based and which is attached to the legislation.

This paper will also offer some modest commentary regarding how the Community Charter and Local Government Act may be brought into conformity with UNDRIP and DRIPA. Our purpose is to give local governments some sense as to how this legislation may change their roles and practices moving forward.

Several court cases have confirmed that local governments are generally not obliged to fulfill the Crown’s duty to consult and accommodate under the Constitution Act. Instead, the obligations of local governments to Indigenous peoples are rooted in statutory obligations. With this in mind, DRIPA will be important for local governments, because its purpose is to bring provincial law, including enabling statutes such as the Community Charter and Local Government Act, into alignment with the commitments and obligations set out in UNDRIP. This is very likely to alter local governments’ statutory obligation to Indigenous peoples.

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