Coast Funds Congratulates B.C. Government on Passage of Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act

Members of the B.C. Government and the First Nations Leadership Council applaud after B.C. became the first province in Canada to enshrine UNDRIP into law, recognizing and protecting the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Photo courtesy Government of British Columbia.

As part of a group of investors representing approximately $1.1 trillion in assets under management, Coast Funds congratulated the recently re-elected B.C. Government on its passage of Bill 41—the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act.

Bill 41 was unanimously passed by the B.C. Government in November 2019 after being jointly developed by the Province and the BC First Nations Leadership Council. The Act requires the government take all necessary measures to ensure provincial laws are consistent with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

The letter was signed by 36 investors and sent to Premier John Horgan, Minister of Finance Selina Robinson, Minister of Indigenous Relations Murray Rankin, and Minister of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation Bruce Ralston. It states, “In our view, Bill 41 is an important first step in bringing clarity to the Government of British Columbia’s aim to harmonize its laws and policies with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).  The legal certainty of a path forward sets B.C. apart from other jurisdictions, domestically and internationally, and provides greater confidence on the stability of this progressive economy and government.”

Environmental, social, and governance concerns, including the recognition of Indigenous Rights should be key considerations for investors.  Coast Funds upholds its values and the values of the First Nations it works in service of by acknowledging and respecting Indigenous history, laws and governance; and, working with the spirit and intent of UNDRIP. These values extend to our investment decisions.

In 2019, Coast Funds announced in 2019 new Shareholder Proxy Voting Guidelines that advocate for the rights of Indigenous Peoples and called upon philanthropy across Canada to recognize Indigenous Peoples’ rights to Free, Prior and Informed Consent and implementation of the United Nations’ Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples throughout their foundations’ investment practices. Related, Coast Funds is a signatory to the philanthropic community’s Declaration of Action, pledging to maintain an active commitment to reconciliation.

Read the full text of the letter sent to Premier Horgan and the list of signatories below.


Honourable John Horgan, Premier
Honourable Selina Robinson, Minister of Finance
Honourable Murray Rankin, Minister of Indigenous Relations
Honourable Bruce Ralston, Minister of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation
Government of British Columbia

Re: Bill 41 – 2019: Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act

Dear Premier Horgan, Minister Robinson, Minister Rankin and Minister Ralston:

We the undersigned investors, representing approximately $1.1 trillion in assets under management, are writing today to congratulate the Government of British Columbia on the passage of Bill 41 – 2019: Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act (“Bill 41”). As investors that believe environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues are material investment considerations, we welcome law that seeks to create certainty and a level playing field in respect of key ESG issues. In our view, Bill 41 is an important first step in bringing clarity to the Government of British Columbia’s aim to harmonize its laws and policies with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).  The legal certainty of a path forward sets BC apart from other jurisdictions, domestically and internationally, and provides greater confidence on the stability of this progressive economy and government.

The uncertainty created by inadequate or non-existent Indigenous engagement practices (corporate or governmental) is a material concern for investors. This uncertainty discourages investment and brings reputational and economic risks to investors seeking to align with global best practice in respecting Indigenous rights. In that light, Bill 41 sets a path towards mitigating a key material risk for investors, particularly those exposed to companies operating in the resource extraction and infrastructure sectors.

We commend the leadership shown by the Government and hope that success in BC will catalyze similar developments across Canada and even across the globe. The implementation of UNDRIP is a critical step towards a sustainable future and will ultimately lead to greater certainty for companies and investors. Bill 41 sets an important precedent along this path and one we hope to see emulated by other governments.

We understand the passage of Bill 41 is just the first step along the journey to implementation of UNDRIP and look forward to further developments. We urge the Government to honour the legal commitment to Indigenous governments as a right holder; ensure that all stakeholders are involved in working out the details; and, in that vein, encourage the Government to seek investor input in the process.

In closing, we once again commend the Government of British Columbia for its leadership in charting a path towards the implementation of UNDRIP through the passage of Bill 41. If you have any questions or would like to discuss this statement further, please contact Jamie Bonham at jbonham@neiinvestments.com, or 604-742-8328.

Sincerely,

NEI Investments
Addenda Capital
Bâtirente
BMO Global Asset Management
Boston Common Asset Management, LLC
Canada Post Corporation Pension Plan
Christian Brothers Investment Services
Coast Funds
Comitato Lady Lawyer Village
Congregation of Sisters of St. Agnes
Dominican Sisters ~ Grand Rapids (MI)
Dominican Sisters of Mission San Jose
Dominican Sisters of San Rafael
Heartland Initiative
Hexavest
Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility
Lady Lawyer Fashion Archive
Lady Lawyer Foundation
Macquarie Investment Management Europe, S.A., ValueInvest
Maryknoll Sisters
OIP Trust
Pacifica Partners Capital Management Inc.
Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary
Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary WPA
RRSE (Regroupement pour la responsabilité sociale des entreprises)
Shareholder Association for Research and Education (SHARE)
Sisters of Charity
Sisters of St. Dominic of Caldwell NJ
Sisters of St. Francis Charitable Trust-Dubuque
Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia
Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange
Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary SNJM
Storebrand Asset Management
Trillium Asset Management
Vancity Investment Management
Zevin Asset Management