On January 15 2020, the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal (BCHRT) released a report addressing serious access to justice concerns for Indigenous people bringing human rights complaints to the tribunal. The report, entitled Expanding our Vision: Cultural Equality and Indigenous Peoples’ Human Rights, makes far-reaching recommendations that, according to Human Rights Tribunal Chair, Diana Juricevic, could transform human rights in this province.
Report author, and long-serving CLEBC contributor, Ardith Walpetko We’dalx Walkem, KC 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 people 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 Identify to the BC Human Rights Code as a ground of discrimination 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.
Watch the full press conference:
Louise Mandell’s comments on the report:
Amber Prince’s comments on the report: