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This article was published 29/3/2019 (749 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Winnipeggers, faith groups and local musicians gathered at Canadian Mennonite University on March 26 to urge the Senate of Canada to pass Bill C-262 before the House of Commons rises for the summer.
The bill, introduced as a private member’s bill by Quebec MP Romeo Saganash, would require Canadian laws to be consistent with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP).
"Manitobans have been leaders in pushing for Bill C-262… I think it’s important to have an event like that in Winnipeg," said Saganash during a media conference at the Daniel McIntyre-St. Matthews Community Association (823 Ellice Ave.) ahead of the evening rally at CMU.
Saganash was joined at the conference by supporters of the bill, including community organizer Leah Gazan — who is currently seeking the NDP’s nomination to be its candidate in Winnipeg Centre in the upcoming federal election.
"I think it’s time that in this country all people, particularly the first peoples on these lands, are afforded basic human rights," Gazan said of the purpose of the bill.
The UNDRIP, which Canada officially adopted in 2016, is an international human rights instrument designed to protect the collective and individual rights of Indigenous people. Bill C-262 would see the standards in the declaration applied in Canadian law. The bill is currently at second reading in the Senate and supporters want to see it passed by June when Parliament breaks for the summer and is dissolved before the federal election this fall.
Tuesday’s rally included musical performances by local musicians Fred Penner and (Coco) Ray Stevenson and a panel discussion with human rights lawyer Paul Joffe, Indigenous rights advocate Jennifer Preston, Saganash and Gazan.
The Mennonite Church of Canada was a co-organizer of the event and the church’s director of Indigenous-settler relations, Steve Heinrichs, said the involvement of local musicians is an example of allyship.
"I think we want to show that the adoption and implementation of the UN declaration is not just about Indigenous peoples, it’s about healing all of the nations here in Canada — including settler society," Heinrichs said. "We want everyday people who are non-Indigenous saying, ‘This matters to us.’"
Eva Wasney is a reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press.