The CSLA Board of Directors Adopted the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) as a Framework for Action and Decision-Making
(June, 2023) By adopting UNDRIP, we are ensuring that the profession operates under the same standards of other organizations we collaborate with and demonstrates our commitment to Indigenous partners.
Our adoption of UNDRIP is supported by our Strategic Plan, our Statement on Reconciliation and our further commitment, expressed in the Canadian Landscape Charter to consider all people, by increasing the awareness and understanding of the traditional values, ecological knowledge and practices of the various Canadian communities, including First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Peoples, which relate to customary stewardship of the land, and by considering these values and practices in both management and design.
What does this adoption mean to practitioners?
The impact of UNDRIP on our profession, on our laws and on our responsibilities as practitioners will touch the concept of free, prior and informed consent on traditional lands.
While engagement with Indigenous communities has expanded dramatically in many cities in recent years, there remain challenges of capacity of both cities and nations to meet demand for the number of projects on an ongoing basis.
Advocacy for integration of Indigenous voices within development review processes and indigenization and decolonization of some of the existing approvals processes may be required for long term sustainability.
The CSLA's Reconciliation Advisory Committee will review and suggest appropriate actions, measures and build on the federal government's operationalization of UNDRIP, and report to members on appropriate steps in the coming year.
The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People UNDRIP was adopted by the general assembly in 2007 but not adopted by Canada until 2010, which was among the last countries to sign.
In 2021, it was signed into law in Canada through the passage of Bill C-15, which became the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act. The Act explicitly confirms that the UN Declaration can be used to interpret Canadian laws — Canadian courts have already been using the UN Declaration in exactly this way.
UNDRIP will promote greater compliance and awareness of the work required to respect and implement the human rights of Indigenous peoples. This legislation is a response to Call to Action 43 of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and sets a framework for reconciliation moving forward that provides internationally recognized standards and mechanisms for resolution.
The 46 Articles of UNDRIP cover a wide range of rights but as Indigenous cultures emerged through engagement of local environments and remain tied to those environments and the non-human kin they are shared with, several overlap rights of access and self determination on traditional territories; the spaces of practice for landscape architecture.
Given that the profession of landscape architecture has been instrumental in shaping environmental perceptions by Canadians we bear a responsibility in the process of Reconciliation especially as it pertains to rights issues surrounding lands and waters, cultural practices in those spaces, and recognition of the cultures that developed alongside who have much to teach.