Department of Justice Canada
August 10, 2021 – Katzie First Nation, British Columbia – Department of Justice Canada
The Government of Canada is committed to walking the shared path of reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, and remains focused on renewing this relationship. This includes protecting Indigenous peoples’ right to self-determination, supporting the revitalization of Indigenous legal systems and traditions, as well as acknowledging the integral role that Indigenous communities and organizations play in the development, use and understanding of Indigenous laws.
Today, the Honourable David Lametti, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, and Ron McKinnon, Member of Parliament for Coquitlam–Port Coquitlam, joined by Councillor David Kenworthy of the Katzie First Nation to highlighted the Government of Canada’s support of their project that aims to revitalize Indigenous laws within their community. Support for this initiative also aligns with the Government of Canada’s response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) Call to Action 50.
The community’s “Katzie Customary Law: Inward Gathering and Outward Sharing” project will include interviews and workshops with Katzie Elders and knowledge holders to gain greater insight into traditional Indigenous laws, practices and processes. These customary laws will be shared throughout the Katzie community, including through youth and young adult culture and language camps. The camps will provide a meaningful cultural context as the participants reflect on how these customary laws might be adapted for the future. These discussions will inform the development of a customary law charter document and, eventually, an economic development plan that is in keeping with their traditional laws.
Call to Action 50 calls upon the federal government to collaborate with Indigenous organizations to fund Indigenous law institutes for the development, use and understanding of Indigenous laws and access to justice in accordance with the unique cultures of Indigenous peoples in Canada. Supporting Call to Action 50 also aligns with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which became law in June, which sets out the right of Indigenous peoples to maintain and strengthen their distinct legal institutions.
The Department of Justice is providing funding for $500,000 over three years through its Justice Partnership and Innovation Program. This program supports activities that respond effectively to the changing conditions affecting Canadian justice policy.
“Every Law of our Ancestors had strong intentions. This project will provide an opportunity to consider how Katzie Law can guide our decisions. We have to start being more aware of our intentions before deciding what we do or allow to happen in our territory.”
David Kenworthy, Councillor
Katzie First Nation
“Our Government will walk the shared path of reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, and remain focused on seeing CTA 50 implemented. I am pleased to support the Katzie First Nation project, which will help community members of all ages gain greater insight into traditional Indigenous laws, practices and processes. The efforts highlighted today help to advance reconciliation efforts with Indigenous communities and organizations as they work to revitalize their legal traditions.”
The Honourable David Lametti, P.C., Q.C., M.P.
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
“The revitalization of Indigenous cultures, langagues and traditions, including legal tradtiions, is at the core of reconciliation.The work of the Katzie First Nation to revitalize legal and governance traditions within their community is truly impressive and the funding highlighted today will allow the Katzie First Nation to develop a new charter that incorporates traditional cultural knowledge and legal traditions. This is a critical element in recognizing Indigenous peoples’ inherent rights and promoting greater access to the justice system.”
Member of Parliament for Coquitlam–Port Coquitlam, British Columbia
- In Budget 2019, the Government of Canada responded to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action 50 by announcing $10 million over five years in support of Indigenous law initiatives across Canada.
- To strengthen community-based justice systems and support self-determination, the 2020 Fall Economic Statement also proposed investments to support the development of Administration of Justice Agreements with Indigenous communities.
- Through the release of Budget 2021, the Government of Canada announced investments of $18 million over 5 years, and $4 million ongoing to revive the Law Commission of Canada to support, among other things, the work to address systemic barriers in the justice system, including barriers to justice faced by Indigenous peoples.
- The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act received Royal Assent and came into force in Canada on June 21, 2021. Developed with Indigenous peoples, this Act creates a legislative framework to implement the Declaration in Canada. It requires the Government of Canada, in consultation and collaboration with Indigenous peoples, to take all measures necessary to align federal laws with the Declaration, develop an action plan to achieve the Declaration’s objectives and report annually to Parliament on the progress to align laws and the action plan.