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Justice Minister David Lametti takes part in a news conference in Ottawa, on Nov. 26, 2020.Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

Justice Minister David Lametti says Ottawa can build a shared understanding of free, prior and informed consent with Indigenous Peoples into a new law to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Speaking to First Nations chiefs in a virtual forum to discuss the issue, Lametti says free, prior and informed consent is about self-determination, respectful two-way dialogue and meaningful participation of Indigenous Peoples in decisions that affect them.

The Liberal government introduced the long-awaited legislation, Bill C-15, in December after a previous version of the bill died in the Senate ahead of the 2019 election.

The bill spells out the need for consent from Indigenous Peoples on anything that infringes on their lands or rights, such as major resource projects, but C-15 does not include a definition.

The proposed law would require the federal government to work with First Nations, Metis and Inuit to do everything needed to ensure Canadian law is in harmony with the rights and principles in the UN declaration.

Lametti says the UN declaration and C-15 are fundamental contributions to the government’s work to advance reconciliation and tackle deep rooted discrimination and racism.

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

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