Indigenous nations have sought to assert jurisdiction in their territories since the first settler arrived. Whether through trade, treaty, negotiations, the courts, or via blockade, that demand has been crystal clear. Canadian governments have responded with a variety of half-measures, from the land claim system to consultation guidelines, or open violence and criminalization. Almost always, conflict endures.
Last week the Government of Canada signalled an opportunity to exit this cycle with the end of its objector status, adoption, and implementation of the United Nation’s Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). This includes the contentious principle of free, prior and informed consent (FPIC). While the development could represent that long hoped-for opportunity to reconcile competing claims to sovereignty, the discussion to date has instead been characterized by confusion.
Consider the chronology of Canada’s official positions on UNDRIP – and specifically FPIC – since October 2015.