Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

On January 15, 2020, the Tribunal released the Report of Ardith Walkem QC, Expanding Our Vision: Cultural Equality & Indigenous Peoples’ Human Rights.

This page includes:

Expanding Our Vision: Cultural Equality & Indigenous Peoples Human Rights

On January 15, 2020, the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal released a report addressing serious access to justice concerns for Indigenous Peoples bringing human rights complaints to the Tribunal. The report, entitled Expanding Our Vision: Cultural Equality & Indigenous Peoples’ Human Rights, makes far-reaching recommendations that could transform human rights in this province. The Human Rights Tribunal is being joined by Indigenous, legal and human rights organizations in a shared commitment to transform human rights for Indigenous Peoples in the province.

Report author Ardith Walpetko We’dalx Walkem QC surveyed over 100 Indigenous People about their experiences with discrimination and the Human Rights Tribunal. Overwhelmingly those interviewed reported pervasive levels of discrimination. Many Indigenous People had no idea that the Human Rights Tribunal existed, or how to access it. Many said that their experiences of racism as Indigenous Peoples were so widespread that they did not believe it would make any difference to file a complaint with the Human Rights Tribunal.

Expanding our Vision makes nine recommendations. Removing barriers to access to the Human Rights Tribunal is not enough. Structural change is needed to incorporate Indigenous definitions of human rights according to Indigenous laws. The main recommendations broaden the concept of human rights, including adding Indigenous Identity to the BC Human Rights Code and incorporating Indigenous legal traditions and international human rights principles as reflected in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which BC has recently committed to implementing through legislation. 

This report is a call to action. The Human Rights Tribunal will actively engage with Indigenous Peoples and communities to move forward in a meaningful way on these recommendations. The report has implications beyond the Tribunal’s work, and we are committed to working collaboratively with others.

View the press conference and comments on the report:

Expanding Our Vision Implementation

A committee is supporting the Tribunal to develop an Expanding Our Vision Implementation Plan. The committee began meetings on March 2, 2020. Committee members are:

Patricia M. Barkaskas
Academic Director, Indigenous Community Legal Clinic
Instructor I (Tenure Track), Peter A. Allard School of Law
The University of British Columbia

Jade Baxter

Romona Baxter

Cynthia Callison
Callison & Hanna Law

Rosalind Campbell
Musqueam Indian Band
Councillor, Musqueam Indian Band

Dylan Cohen
Red River Métis

Devyn Cousineau
Human Rights Tribunal

Trish Garner
Executive Director, Research and Policy
Office of the Human Rights Commissioner for British Columbia

Andrea Glickman
Policy Director
Union of BC Indian Chiefs

Katherine Hardie
Legal counsel
Human Rights Tribunal

Andrea Hilland
Policy counsel
Law Society of British Columbia

Myrna L. McCallum
Miyo Pimatisiwin Legal Services

Jo Ann Nahanee

Amber Prince
Member, Sucker Creek Cree Nation
Staff lawyer, Atira Women's Resource Society

Lissa Dawn Smith
Metis Nation BC

Important Documents

United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act

Reports of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission

Report of the Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls

Expanding Our Vision: Cultural Equality & Indigenous Peoples’ Human Rights