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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

file
Oak Bay resident bilked $3,300 in puppy scam

Three cases of fraud reported in two days

Sidney’s Star Cinema has temporarily closed as part of efforts to COVID-19. (Black Press Media File).
Sidney’s Star Cinema temporarily goes dark

Closure reflects provincial health order in effect until Dec. 7

Victoria police are asking for help locating Jordan Doddridge who is wanted on a Canada-wide warrant. (Courtesy of Victoria Police Department)
VicPD seek help locating man wanted on Canada-wide warrant

Jordan Doddridge has an extensive criminal history including violent offences

(Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria dine and dash brings $230 fine

Group paid the bill, police locate suspect who violated provincial restrictions, mistreated staff

SD62 says parents of kids who have problems with bus stops and pick up times should reach out to their transportation department to find a solution. This comes after a Grade 10 student attending EMCS in Sooke found out he had to walk 45 minutes to get to the nearest bus pickup. (Black Press Media file photo)
Bus route mishap leaves EMCS student walking 45 mins to pickup spot

Sooke School District willing to work with family to find solution

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Nov. 23, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. daily COVID-19 cases hits record 941 on Tuesday

Further restrictions on indoor exercise take effect

(Pixabay.com)
Man, 28, warned by Kootenay police to stop asking people to marry him

A woman initially reported the incident to police before they discovered others had been popped the question

Winston Blackmore (left) and James Oler (right) were sentenced on separate charges of polygamy this week in Cranbrook Supreme Court.
No more charges expected in Bountiful investigation, special prosecutor says

Special prosecutor says mandate has ended following review of evidence from Bountiful investigations

(Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Refuse to follow B.C.’s mask mandate? Face a $230 fine

Masks are now required to be worn by all British Columbians, 12 years and older

Parksville’s French Creek Harbour experienced a diesel spill on Nov. 23 after a barge and fishing vessel collided. (Mandy Moraes photo)
Coast Guard cleans up diesel spill in Parksville’s French Creek Harbour

Barge carrying fuel truck collides with fishing vessel

Stock photo
Senior from Gibsons caught viewing child porn sentenced to 10 months

74-year-old pleaded guilty after police seized 1,500-2,500 images

BC Teachers' Federation President Teri Mooring is asking parents of school-aged children to encourage the wearing of masks when possible in schools. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito)
LETTER: Teachers union encourages culture of mask wearing in B.C. schools

BCTF President Teri Mooring asks parents to talk with children about wearing masks in school

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speak to the media about the COVID-19 virus outside Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s inability to manufacture vaccines in-house will delay distribution: Trudeau

First doses of COVID-19 vaccine expected in first few months of 2021, prime minister says

(Pixabay)
All dance studios, other indoor group fitness facilities must close amid updated COVID-19 rules

Prior announcement had said everything except spin, HIIT and hot yoga could remain open

Most Read