by Kerstin Auer — 

New funding is available for First Nations across B.C. to support the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), which became law in British Columbia at the end of 2019. After a series of consultations between the provincial government and Indigenous leaders, the province released its plan for putting UNDRIP into action at the end of March 2022. The new funding, called the Declaration Act Engagement Fund, is now available to help First Nations with moving forward and implementing the action plan.

“Across the provincial government, we are working in consultation and co-operation with Indigenous Peoples to implement the UN Declaration,” said Murray Rankin, minister of Indigenous relations and reconciliation. “The Declaration Act Engagement Fund enables equitable participation by First Nations as we carry out this important work together. This enhanced participation also greatly benefits the Province through the skills, advice, and guidance each Nations brings.”  

The fund is administered and delivered by New Relationship Trust (NRT), which is an independent, Indigenous-led and politically neutral non-profit dedicated to empowering First Nations in B.C. in their unique journeys toward self-determination and nationhood, according to a recent press release. 

“NRT is pleased to partner with the Province to deliver an accessible and flexible funding process that empowers First Nations to conduct the work of implementing the UN Declaration on their own terms,” said Walter Schneider, CEO of New Relationship Trust.

The program has been designed to provide quick and easy access to application and funding, without major administrative hurdles. A single application will, once approved, ensure annual funding for four years, with a yearly disbursement of $260,000 adding up to a total of $1.04 million per B.C. First Nation. While the program’s primary goal is the funding of the government-to-government UNDRIP implementation, it also seeks to support capacity development within First Nation communities across B.C. Overall, eligible expenses are centered around implementing UNDRIP and include staffing, professional fees, legal and technical support, and community engagement.

“We recognize this project is an incremental step and that more work will need to be done to support First Nations through the process, but it is an important first step nonetheless,” added Schneider. 

The NRT also noted in their press release that care was taken during the design of the program that each First Nation in B.C. has a distinct cultural heritage, structure, as well as traditional and modern governance systems.

Applications for the funding can be submitted at