The federal Green Party announced today that it would work to “dismantle” the Indian Act as part of their election platform.

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May was in Cowichan Bay today to make the announcement, which also included promises to implement both the calls from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Inqury into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women.

May said the Green Party “fully embraces all 46 articles of the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).”

Elizabeth May said that the Green Party rejects the Indian Act, and  called it “racist and oppressive legislation.”

The Green Party said that they would “support Indigenous Peoples’ work and efforts towards self-determination to ensure no one is left behind or excluded from their rightful heritage.”

They also said that the party would “establish processes for self-governing Indigenous Peoples and nations to choose to ‘opt out’ of the Indian Act.”

At an all-candidates debate held at Claremont Secondary School on Saturday afternoon, May said “we need to work past the Indian Act over time …We need to be able to have self-governing indigenous nations, groups … tell the Federal Government ‘this is our governing structure. This is how we operate. We’re no longer under the election every two years for band council under the Indian Act.’ Unless that indigenous nation chooses to keep it.”

UNDRIP and the Indian Act have been controversial topics for politicians in Canada, with some saying the Declaration and the Act are incompatible.

In 2016, then-Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould said in a speech to the Assembly of First Nations that UNDRIP was “unworkable,” saying “as much as I would tomorrow like to cast into the fire of history the Indian Act so that the Nations can be reborn in its ashes – this is not a practical option.”

Wilson-Raybould later walked those comments back, saying “It is no longer a question of if we are going to do it. We certainly are, it is more a question of how we are going to implement it here in Canada.”

A private member’s bill sponsored by NDP MP Romeo Saganash to adopt UNDRIP passed through the House of Commons, but was killed in the Senate this past June by Conservative senators using delaying tactics.

Justin Trudeau later pledged that a re-elected Liberal government would fully implement UNDRIP. The NDP have also promised to fully implement UNDRIP.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer has declined to commit to implementing UNDRIP, expressing concern for future resource development. “If we want to be a country where we can get big projects built again, we have to be very careful about … the wording on these type of things,” said Scheer on September 20.

With files from CBC News.

Tim Ford