October 3, 2017 - No. 30
Recognition of the
Hereditary Rights of
Indigenous Peoples Must Come First
Justice for Missing and Murdered
Indigenous Women and Girls!
• Beware of
Trudeau Government's Changes to the Indian
- Mira Katz -
Over Violations of Collective Rights Taken to UN
• UN Body Highlights Unacceptable
Facing Indigenous Peoples in Canada
• Successful Red Dress Campaign
Event Held in Prince George
• Tears4Justice Walk in Northern BC
• Indigenous Nations Demand End to Open
Net-Pen Fish Farms
• Opposition to Illegal Pipeline
Traditional Kanien'kehá:ka Territory
• Provocative Land Development
Begins at Site of 1990 Oka Crisis
For Your Information
• The White Paper 1969
- Indigenous Foundations -
• Statement of the Government of
Canada on Indian Policy
(The White Paper, 1969)
• Sir John A. MacDonald's Reign of
Recognition of the Hereditary Rights of
Must Come First
Empty red dresses hung in Lheidli T'enneh
Memorial Park in Prince George, September 17, 2017, symbolize the
Indigenous women and girls who have been
murdered or gone
missing along the Highway of Tears and all murdered and
missing women and girls. (TML)
The plight of the Indigenous peoples of this country is
a matter of great concern to everyone. This includes the Trudeau
government. Unfortunately, the government's concern is not to redress
historical wrongs as the times demand. It is to achieve what has eluded
previous governments -- which is to extinguish Indigenous peoples'
and for all, so as to steal their lands and resources. At the same
time, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau seeks to restore Canada's tarnished
human rights record
on the world stage. This is a reputation as a violator of human rights
due to its abysmal record of criminal negligence of the conditions of
of the Indigenous peoples in Canada and crimes committed against them.
It is Canada's image which
concerned the Prime Minister when he spoke at the UN in the
General Debate on September 21. Posturing as a senior statesman even
though he has barely been in office for two years, Trudeau said: "In
conversations over the years, when I've suggested that certain
countries need to do better on their own human rights, their own
internal challenges, the response has been, 'Well, tell me about the
plight of Indigenous people [in Canada].'"
Just days before, the UN's Committee for the Elimination
Racial Discrimination issued yet another report that was highly
critical of Canada's failure to address the serious situation of
its Indigenous peoples. Trudeau used the occasion of his
presentation to the UN General Assembly to blame previous
governments so as to make it appear that his government can be
counted on to do something about the situation.
Previous governments "discarded the Indigenous
protect the land and water, of always thinking seven generations
ahead," Trudeau said. By so doing "we rejected the very notion
that whole generations of Indigenous Peoples have the right to
define for themselves what a decent life might be," he said, adding
"failure of successive Canadian governments to respect the rights
of Indigenous Peoples in Canada is our great shame."
"We know that the world expects Canada to strictly
international human rights standards -- including the United
Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples -- and
that is what we expect of ourselves, too," Trudeau said.
Diversion and Deceit
It is all smoke and mirrors. Not only is his
record similar to that of his predecessors, his is accompanied by
a much larger dose of diversion and deceit based on a pretense
that he will re-establish nation-to-nation relations. This is the
lowest a government can go to carry on defrauding the people of
their rightful claims to their land and its resources, to make sure
no historical wrongs are righted or justice is served.
"We are working closely with Indigenous peoples in
better respond to their priorities, to better understand how they
see and define self-determination, and to support their work of
nation rebuilding," Trudeau told the UN General Assembly.
In the 150 years since Confederation and before,
governments of Canada have tried to extinguish the hereditary rights of
the Indigenous peoples and their right to be. This is tantamount to
extinguishing them as peoples. No matter what Trudeau or his Ministers
do, or how duplicitous they are, try as they might, the truth of the
matter will not go away. The duplicity is such that now Trudeau has
created a new Ministry of Indian Affairs, bringing the number of
ministries dealing with his problem to two. He also has an Attorney
General who claims Aboriginal ancestry and speaks about "us" when she
refers to her government's aim to dispossess the Indigenous nations yet
again. And now he speaks about eliminating the hated Indian Act
without first recognizing hereditary rights in law.
The role of the state in covering up why so many
women and girls are missing also remains an elephant in the room
which the government refuses to deal with, offering pablum
instead. Band councils which refuse to cooperate are
criminalized, while governments and the corporate news media tell
us that Indians have a right to speak and protest but with
"reasonable limits." This is the case of the Six Nations in
Caledonia where the barricades against the sell-out band council
were forced down and claims to the land remain pending despite
pledges and legal findings in favour of the people.
So long as the right to be of the Indigenous peoples is
not recognized in either the Constitution, any law of the land or
consultations of any kind, no matter what deal the government declares,
it has no standing. The rights of the Indigenous
peoples belong to them by right. Rights can neither be given, taken
away nor forfeited in any way. This means that no matter
what deal governments manage to get a counterpart to sign who claims to
represent the Indigenous peoples, Indigenous rights
cannot be forfeited. They are either respected and affirmed or
they have no standing.
As a people who are autochthonous -- which means
original inhabitants -- the Indigenous peoples have a hereditary right
their sovereignty. They have a rightful claim to the land of
their ancestors and to the determination of what must be done
with it. A right cannot be lost because Indigenous peoples were
during colonial times and many of them subjected to treaties, all
of which hold the British monarch to be the sovereign. Their rights
just because they had no say at the time of Confederation and
since then. This history merely underlies the fact that up to the
present, the Constitution of Canada has not enshrined the
sovereign right of the Indigenous peoples to determine their own
affairs and their hereditary rights.
As sovereign peoples they have the right to determine
only all their affairs but all the affairs of Canada as a whole that
affect them. This includes all economic matters, cultural
affairs and questions related to war and peace and any other
matter. This is the case whether or not they recognize themselves
as citizens of Canada. The Canadian people as constituted today
live on a territory called Canada and are therefore duty-bound to
respect the rights of the Aboriginal peoples to the land which is
theirs by right. Furthermore, whatever territories they require
for their living must be clearly demarcated in a manner which
upholds their rights in law, not in a manner which uses the
conception of a rule of law to extinguish their rights and, more so,
to commit genocide against them.
If Canadian governments
were to recognize the hereditary rights of the Indigenous peoples
in deeds, there would not be so many disputes and cases before the
courts or Indigenous youth in jail or missing and murdered women and
girls or suicides on reserve and in urban centres. The agencies
of government would not be permitted to
deprive the Indigenous peoples of their due which includes the
affirmation of their rights as human beings in matters of health
care, education, housing, justice and all other matters.
Recognition of the hereditary rights of the Indigenous
peoples must come first. It is not a matter of words but deeds.
This is the fundamental fact that, come what may, the Prime
Minister cannot escape.
Beware of Trudeau Government's Changes
to the Indian Act
The Trudeau government is talking big about getting rid
the Indian Act and establishing nation-to-nation relations
with Canada's Indigenous peoples. On August 28, the PMO issued a
news release stating, "Indigenous and Northern Affairs
Canada (INAC) -- which serves as a focal point in the
government's relationship with Indigenous Peoples -- is charged
with implementing the Indian Act, a colonial,
paternalistic law. INAC was also not designed or conceived of to
support and partner with Inuit and Métis peoples, based on their
unique histories, circumstances and aspirations. To put it
plainly, the level of the ambition of this government cannot be
achieved through existing colonial structures.
"Over twenty years ago, the Royal Commission on
Peoples acknowledged that a new relationship with Indigenous
Peoples would require new structures. It recommended that we
dramatically improve the delivery of services while accelerating
a move to self-government and self-determination of Indigenous
Peoples. One mechanism to achieve this was the dissolution of
INAC and the creation of two new ministries to facilitate this
"We agree with the Royal Commission that rights
must be an imperative, and that is why today we are announcing
the dissolution of INAC.
"In its place, we will be establishing two new
Department of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs,
and a Department of Indigenous Services. These changes are
modelled on the recommendations of the Royal Commission and will
be finalized in cooperation with Indigenous Peoples."
But the Trudeau government's talk is as cheap as that
previous governments because there is absolutely no intent to
give up the one-sided decision-making power enshrined in the
Royal Prerogative wielded by the person of state.
This is not the first attempt of a government to get
Indigenous peoples to sign away their rights.
1969 Government White Paper
On June 25, 1969, Jean Chrétien, who was at that
Affairs Minister" in the government of Pierre Elliot Trudeau,
introduced the "Statement of the Government of Canada on Indian
Policy," known as an official Government White Paper. This White
Paper, rejected by the Indigenous peoples at that time, was a
clear plan to entirely dispossess the Indigenous peoples under
the pretext of "freedom" and "equality."
The government intended to:
(1) make "Indian affairs" into a
provincial, rather than a federal, responsibility;
(2) repeal the Indian Act;
(3) permit "Indian lands" to be sold and mortgaged;
(4) appoint a Commissioner to adjudicate "Indian land
claims," but refusing to recognize any "Aboriginal" claims.
Ever since the colonialists arrived in Canada, the
have been trying to wipe out the Indigenous peoples. When they
failed to wipe them out by force of arms, they attempted to wipe
them out by other means. Ever since the signing of the treaties
and the Indian Act, subsequent governments have persisted
in this endeavour. Their trick from the get go was to impose
forms related to the European nation-state, including so-called
elected councils and forms of alleged self-government. In this
way, they introduced their puppets onto the reservation whom they
would get "elected" into office. These "elected" chiefs relate to
the government of Canada in a subordinate position and have
nothing to do with traditional ways. To this day the people do
not recognize them as their leaders and governments go through
all kind of contortions to make it appear as if a legitimate
decision-making process is followed when their real aim is theft
of Indigenous lands and to extinguish Indigenous rights,
especially their right to be. At the beginning it required the
RCMP to "elect" them through deceit backed with force of arms,
and it requires the armed protection of the capitalist state to
keep them in that position. Puppet elected chiefs continue to act
as the instrument of the Indigenous peoples' expropriation
because whenever one of them disagrees, he is replaced with
another who will agree. Entire bands are written off the books by
federal Indian agents when they fail to do the government's
bidding. Nowadays, under the hoax of "democratization,"
"equality" and "freedom," the federal government continues its
finagling to suppress the affirmation of Indigenous sovereignty
and hereditary rights.
One of the ways the federal government denies
Indigenous rights is by making Indian affairs a provincial
question. To pretend that these questions are worthy of local
attention only and not federal obligations, is to negate the fact
that the Indigenous peoples signed treaties with Britain and the
United States, and not with some provincial or municipal
government. The fact of signing these treaties and agreements,
many of which were friendship treaties and did not cede any land,
is the recognition that the Indian nations were nations with the
right of self-determination on the lands they inhabited.
A statement issued by the National Executive of the
Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) in 1973 denounced the
Trudeau government's White Paper. It pointed out: "The government hoax
that it is giving the Indians 'freedom' by allowing them to sell their
land is an absolute lie! Everyone knows that the Indian reservations
have great land value because of their proximity to a large city
or because they possess enormous wealth in terms of natural
resources. By 'freeing' the land from communal or tribal control,
where it must remain in perpetuity in possession of the band, the
monopoly capitalist government is opening the way for land
speculators and other low characters. The Indians are forced to
forfeit the land in lieu of debt payments on the mortgages and
the speculators use the normal capitalist deceit and blackmail to
force the Indians to sell their land. It is precisely this
struggle which is at the heart of many conflicts now raging
amongst various Indian bands.
"Because of the total opposition from the Indians to
this White Paper, the government was forced to drop these specific
proposals. However, it has gone ahead with its plans. By turning
the reserves into municipalities, the Indian lands have become
available for capitalist exploitation and capitalist control.
This is precisely what the Canadian monopoly capitalists and the
large foreign landholders in Canada want.
"The struggle of the Native Indian people for their
hereditary rights is an entirely just struggle. It enjoys the
support of the entire Canadian working class and people. The
Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) salutes the Native
Indians throughout Canada and affirms its complete support for
their struggle for their hereditary rights."
"Canada Clause" in the Charlottetown Accord 1992
The proposed text of the "Canada Clause" in the
Concensus Report on the Constitution, known as the Charlottetown
Accord, which was put to Referendum and defeated in 1992,
contained the following:
"Canada Clause (b),
"the Aboriginal peoples of Canada, being the first
govern this land, have the right to promote their languages,
cultures and traditions and to ensure the integrity of their
societies, and their governments constitute one of the three
orders of government in Canada."
CPC(M-L) pointed out at the time: The reference to
"their governments" is to band councils elected according to the system
imposed on Indigenous peoples by the colonial government. These
"elected councils" were imposed to replace the
"Indian agent" of colonial times in the regulation of "Indian
affairs." It was to give colonial control an aura of being
democratic. There is nothing "Indigenous" about these governments,
based as they are on the ways of the European nation-state which set
itself the aim to occupy what it called "terra nullius" -- literally
"nobody's land" -- and integrate all original peoples into the European
way of life based on private ownership of land and means of production
-- a way of life and culture totally anathema to the Indigenous
peoples' right to be. Besides this, what is written in this clause
makes it quite clear that the sovereignty of the Aboriginal peoples,
either alone, or together with the rest of the people of Canada, is not
to be enshrined in the Constitution or guide lawmaking in any way. As
for the restoration of the hereditary rights of the Aboriginal peoples,
its opposite is found in all attempts to defraud the Indigenous peoples.
According to the Charlottetown Consensus Report, the
Aboriginal peoples were to be allowed "self-government" as "one
of the three orders of Government in Canada," meaning that they
would not be sovereign governments.
Just because the word "self" is added before
the word "government" does not make such a government sovereign.
Aboriginal peoples were to "have the right to promote their languages,
cultures and traditions and to ensure the integrity of their
societies," but not the right to a culture which
permits them to lay down the law of the land as a sovereign
Prime Minister Trudeau, in his remarks to the UN General
Assembly on September 21 deliberately negated Indigenous peoples'
sovereign rights when he said that self-government is "an expression of
self-determination." This negation of rights is consistent with the
actions of past governments and is why the "new relationship" Trudeau
speaks of is smoke and mirrors to hide the fact that his government has
the same aim as past governments: the dispossession of Indigenous
Canada Clause (b) said nothing concrete in terms of
inherent Aboriginal rights. Things such as "have the right to
promote their languages, cultures and traditions and to ensure
the integrity of their societies, and their governments
constitute one of three orders of Government in Canada" merely
emphatically reiterate that the
Charlottetown Accord would have accorded them no rights whatsoever.
No people can be sovereign if somebody else does the
for them. A sovereignty which rests on the law laid down by
others is no sovereignty at all. It is an extinguished
sovereignty. From the situation which was created by the British
North America Act in
which the Indigenous peoples had no say whatsoever and through
which their rights were gradually trampled underfoot, we arrive
at a situation where once again there is a lot of talk about
rectifying historical wrongs to divert attention from new acts of
Far from righting historical wrongs committed against
the Indigenous peoples, the measures the Trudeau government is
taking will cause even greater injustice. This injustice will be
committed first and foremost against the Indigenous peoples
themselves and, secondly, against all Canadians for whom the
correction of wrongs committed by the society against the
Indigenous peoples as a whole, and against Indigenous women,
youth and children in particular, is paramount in their hearts
and minds and as a matter of principle. The health of the whole
cannot exist unless the parts are healthy as well.
For the government of Justin Trudeau to underestimate
significance of this issue is a grave mistake. Everything is done
to create the impression that eliminating the Indian Act,
inquiring into murdered and missing women, or signing treaties
with suspect tribal councils which are willing to forfeit
hereditary rights are a first step in dealing with the issue of
Indigenous rights. Time and time again, life experience has
proven that so long as the spirit is imbued with covetousness --
a strong desire for the possessions of another -- it constitutes
a step backward which continues to cause irreparable damage to
the well-being of Indigenous people both individually and
collectively and to Canada as a whole. The recognition of the
hereditary rights of the Indigenous peoples must come first.
1. Consensus Report on the
2. See Hardial Bains, The Essence
of the Consensus Report on
the Constitution, 1992.
Concerns Over Violations of
Collective Rights Taken to UN
Representatives of several Canadian organizations
attended the 93rd session of the UN Committee on the Elimination of
Racial Discrimination (CERD) in Geneva, Switzerland in August at the
periodic review of Canada's record on addressing racism and racial
discrimination. The last review was in 2012. Nineteen of the 33
by "civil society" groups were from Indigenous nations and
organizations. The submissions are considered by the Committee in
issuing its concluding observations and recommendations. Printed
below are excerpts from some of the submissions by Indigenous
peoples and organizations.
Mothers and Grandmothers of the Maliseet Nation
[...] While the Supreme Court of Canada has determined
the Canadian and provincial governments have a duty to consult,
negotiate, and accommodate Indigenous rights, the governments use
these consultation and negotiation processes to coerce,
terrorize, terminate, extinguish, and discriminate against
Indigenous peoples and our rights.
The governments of today are ignoring, undermining, and
disrespecting the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of
Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and violating the International
Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial
Canada consistently lies to the various branches,
commissions, and expert bodies of the United Nations. As a member
state, Canada's unscrupulous conduct towards not only Indigenous
nations but also the United Nations cannot and should not be
tolerated nor overlooked, and consequences are warranted in any
form suitable for a member state. [...]
Native Women's Association of Canada
[...] In failing to address the gender and sex-based
discrimination in its approaches to addressing racial
discrimination, the Government of Canada is continuing to
entrench systemic discrimination against Indigenous women and
girls. Reconciliation and ending violence become impossible
without Indigenous women and girls leading as full and equal
participants in the decision-making processes that affect their
Canada cannot move forward with meaningful
the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous
Peoples through a nation-to-nation framework without Indigenous
women. The existing marginalization of Indigenous women that
results from the ongoing impacts of historic discrimination
cannot be resolved if they are exacerbated by the Government of
the day, transcending differences across the political
A meaningful dialogue on a nation-to-nation basis must
recognize the role of women in decision-making, enhance the right
of Indigenous women to be meaningfully included, respect
matriarchal practices of Indigenous peoples, and build a
relationship with Indigenous women based on co-operation and
Feminist Alliance for International Action;
Palmater, Chair in Indigenous Governance;
Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies
The 65-page submission included recommendations on the
National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and
Girls, such as:
- Amend the terms of the National inquiry and/or a
inquiry be conducted to investigate police violence against
Indigenous women and girls, noting all filed complaints,
investigations, charges, and prosecutions and a special
investigation should be made of the vulnerabilities associated
with Indigenous children in care, runaways, and homeless
Indigenous women and children to police racism and sexualized
- Together with provinces and territories provide
access to federal, provincial, territorial, municipal records,
statistics, and other data necessary to determine the extent of police
racism, abuse, and sexualized violence against Indigenous women
and girls and its connection to their failure to initiate and
investigate complaints related to the murdered and missing.
- Make a complete review of all oversight mechanisms
entities (police-based or independent) for systemic problems
related to the proper and complete investigations of police abuse
of Indigenous women and girls, including failures to initiate and
investigate complaints and why some complaints never brought
- Implement a specific review of assaults, sexual
and other misconduct by police against Indigenous women and girls
at every stage of police custody initially stopped/called,
arrests or detentions, inside police vehicles, and in jail
- Implement the recommendations of the Truth and
Reconciliation Commission, the Inter-American Commission on Human
Rights, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of
Discrimination against Women and other UN bodies in relation to
murdered and disappeared Indigenous women and girls that go
beyond the initiation of a national inquiry, including
recommendations that would most immediately affect Indigenous
women and girls' daily lives, health, safety and security,
address their poor socio-economic conditions, and ensure specific
supports for victims of domestic violence.
- Ensure that Indigenous women and their families are
provided with an independent review of cases where there are
questions about the adequacy or impartiality of police
- Ensure that through the national inquiry, or
extensive investigation into police violence against Indigenous
women and girls is undertaken, noting all filed complaints,
investigations, charges, and prosecutions.
- Undertake, through the national inquiry, or
complete review of all police acts, laws, regulations, and
policies related to prevention, investigation, and discipline for
acts of racism and violence against women generally, and
Indigenous women and girls specifically, as well as all police
oversight mechanisms and entities.
- Undertake a review of Canada's domestic and
human rights obligations in regard to the protection of
Indigenous women and girls from racist and sexualized violence
committed by state actors, such as law enforcement, lawyers,
health care professionals, child welfare workers, and judges.
First Nations Child and Caring Society of Canada
[...] The Caring Society submits that Canada's failure
provide equitable and culturally-based child and family services
for 165,000 First Nations children and their families on reserves
is contrary to Article 2 of the International Convention on the
Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination ("Convention")
and Article 7 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of
Indigenous Peoples ("Declaration"). Likewise, jurisdictional
disputes within and between governments and departments, which
cause First Nations children on and off reserves to be denied or
experience delays when accessing public services that other
Canadians take for granted, is also contrary to Article 2 of the
Convention and Articles 2 and 7 of the Declaration. The Caring
Society also notes with great concern, Canada's failure to comply
with domestic law regarding non-discrimination. There is simply
no excuse for ongoing discrimination by the Government of Canada
toward First Nations children -- they already treat other children
equitably. The Caring Society asks CERD to demand that Canada
immediately and fully comply with its domestic and international
human rights law obligations regarding First Nations children and
their families. [...]
Chiefs of Ontario
[...] the Chiefs of Ontario argues that by failing to
access to healthy water, recognize Indigenous governance over
land and resources, protect the environment, or invest in climate
change solutions beneficial to First Nations, Canada is
discriminating against First Nations by causing differential
impacts on them by way of impacts to their environments.
[...] First Nations in Canada face environmental racial
discrimination through unequal proximity to environmental
hazards; unequal provision of environmental protection;
disproportionate effects on their rights, well-being, cultures
and legal systems through environmental impacts; and ongoing
violations of their rights to consultation, accommodation, and
consent where environmental law and policy are developed.
Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs
[...] The current Canadian government, led by Prime
Justin Trudeau, has committed to a new relationship with
Indigenous peoples in Canada based on the "recognition of rights,
respect, co-operation and partnership." This relationship would
be guided by the spirit and intent of the original treaty
relationship; one that respects inherent rights, treaties and
jurisdictions; and one that respects the decisions of our courts.
A key aspect of this new relationship is the implementation of
the UN Declaration [on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples], in
"partnership with Indigenous communities."
Despite these lofty promises, we are presently
great divide between the words of the Canadian government and its
actions on the ground. [...]
Throughout this submission, we would like to highlight
term 'rights ritualism' for the consideration of the Committee in
respect to Canada's present actions: Rights ritualism can be
understood as a way of embracing the language of human rights
precisely to deflect real human rights scrutiny and to avoid
accountability for human rights abuses. Countries are often
willing to accept human rights treaty commitments to earn
international approval, but they resist the changes that the
treaty obligations require.
Full submissions are available here.
UN Body Highlights Unacceptable Situation
Peoples in Canada
On September 13, a week before Prime Minister Justin
Trudeau's address to the United Nations, the UN Committee to End
Racial Discrimination issued the concluding observations
from its periodic review of Canada's progress in implementing the
UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial
The Committee notes that, despite the Canadian
commitment to implement the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's
94 calls to action, no concrete action has been taken. It calls on
the State party to 1) develop a concrete action plan to actually
do so; and 2) adopt a legislative framework to implement the
United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples --
including a national action plan, reform of national laws,
policies and regulations to bring them into compliance with the
Declaration, and annual public reporting.
Land Rights of Indigenous Peoples
The Committee expressed its concern that violations of
Indigenous peoples' land rights continue, "in particular,
environmentally destructive decisions for resource development
which affect their lives and territories continue to be
undertaken without the free, prior and informed consent of the
Indigenous peoples, resulting in breaches of treaty obligations
and international human rights law."
The Committee specifically recommended that:
- Indigenous peoples be
permitted to conduct independent
environmental impact studies;
- the substitution of costly legal
challenges as post facto
recourse in place of obtaining
meaningful free, prior and informed consent of Indigenous peoples
- the principle of free, prior and informed consent be
incorporated in the Canadian regulatory system, and that
decision-making processes around the review and approval of
large-scale resource development projects such as the Site C dam
- all permits and approvals for the construction of
the Site C dam be immediately suspended and a full review conducted in
collaboration with Indigenous peoples of the violations of their
rights in the building of this dam and identify alternatives to
irreversible destruction of Indigenous lands and subsistence,
which will be caused by this project;
- the results of any
government studies of the Mount Polley disaster and the criminal
investigation into it be publicly released before the statute of
limitations for charges under the relevant Acts expires, as well
as the impact of the disaster on Indigenous peoples
be monitored and the effects be mitigated by providing safe water and
to health care, and fair remedies and reparations.
Violence Against Indigenous Women and Girls
The Committee expressed alarm at the continued high
violence against Indigenous women and girls and called for Canada
to take the following measures:
- enact a national action plan on violence against
inclusive of the federal, provincial and territorial
jurisdictions, with special provisions to end the high rates of
violence against Indigenous women and girls;
- establish an
independent review mechanism for unsolved cases of missing and
murdered Indigenous women and girls where there is evidence of
bias or error in the investigation;
- publicly report on violence
against Indigenous women and girls, including data on reported
cases of violence, murder, and disappearances, and on the numbers
of investigations, prosecutions and convictions.
Discrimination Against Indigenous Children
The Committee also expressed alarm that despite
recommendations, less money is provided for Indigenous child and
family services than for other children, that the gap continues
to grow and that Canada has failed to address "the root causes of
displacement, while tens of thousands of children are needlessly
removed from their families, communities and culture and placed
in State care." It recommends Canada:
- fully comply with and implement the January 2016
and subsequent non-compliance orders of the Canadian Human Rights
Tribunal, and end underfunding of First Nations, Inuit and Métis
child and family services;
- ensure that all children, on and off
reserve, have access to all services available to other children
- implement the full scope and meaning of Jordan's
Principle so that access to these services is never delayed or
denied because of disputes between the federal, provincial and
territorial governments over their respective
1. Imperial Metals caused the
worst mine waste disaster in history at its Mt. Polley mine near
Williams Lake British Columbia on August 4, 2014. The spill of toxic
chemicals devastated Quesnel Lake, once a pristine major breeding
ground of Fraser River salmon.
Successful Red Dress Campaign Event
Held in Prince George
As part of the 2nd Annual Red Dress Campaign, on
September 17, residents from all walks of life joined together
in a "Stand-In" at the corner of Highways 97 and 16 in Prince
George. Each participant held an empty red dress symbolizing not
only the Indigenous women and girls who have been murdered or
gone missing along the Highway of Tears (Hwy 16) in northern
British Columbia, but all murdered and missing women and girls.
Following the "Stand-In," demonstrators moved to Lheidli T'enneh
Memorial Park where dresses were hung in the trees giving voice
to those lost and ensuring they are not forgotten. The program
continued at the park with prayers, music, speakers and a closing
Tears4Justice Walk in Northern BC
The Walk4Justice along the "Highway of Tears" departs Prince Rupert,
September 21, 2017.
For the seventh year in a row a spirited march took
in northern BC to call for an end to violence against Indigenous
women and girls, including on the Highway of Tears,
Highway 16, where dozens of Indigenous women have disappeared.
This year's Tears4Justice march covered 350 kilometers along
Highway 16, from Prince Rupert to Smithers, between September 21
The annual march was started and has been led each year
by Gladys Radek, whose niece Tamara Lynn Chipman, disappeared
from Highway 16 twelve years ago. Participants came from all over
northern BC, from Haida Gwaii and other parts of Canada,
including a contingent from the Downtown Eastside Women's Centre
in Vancouver. The distance was covered partly on foot and partly
in vehicles bearing pictures of women who were last been seen on
the Highway. All along the route the marchers were met with
expressions of support. Many of the missing and murdered women were
last seen hitch-hiking, and for over ten years residents
of northern BC have been calling for public transit on Highway
16. Finally this year some service has been put in place.
The march ended in Smithers, the site of the second
of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous
Women and Girls where Gladys Radek and family members of other
women were to speak. In the last days the march was joined by
National Inquiry Commissioner Michelle Audette and Chief
Commissioner Marion Buller joined for the final march into
Smithers. The hearings in Smithers took place from September 26
Indigenous Nations Demand End to
Open Net-Pen Fish Farms
On September 6, Indigenous chiefs from around BC held a
press conference and rally in Vancouver to call for a
province-wide shutdown of open net-pen fish farms. The call
follows a recent breach of a pen that released 300,000 farmed
Atlantic salmon, referred to by Indigenous activists as an
"invasive species." They say the fish farms are sources of
viruses, diseases and parasites which are polluting coastal
waters and devastating wild salmon stocks.
Bob Chamberlain, Vice President of the Union of BC
Chiefs (UBCIC), spoke and emceed the rally. He acknowledged fish
farms as an important source of employment and called for them to
be located on land and the fish raised in sanitary and escape-proof
UBCIC President Grand Chief
Stuart Phillip and several other
chiefs and leaders also addressed the rally. Sto:lo activist and
Wild Salmon Defenders' Alliance spokesperson Eddie Gardener
warned that wild salmon are being devastated by and face
extinction as a result of Department of Fisheries' policies and
the provincially-licensed fish farms. Gardener vowed that
activists will escalate their opposition and do "whatever it
takes" to protect the salmon.
NDP Indigenous Relations Minister Scott Fraser was
when he addressed the rally and asked for "patience." Fraser was
non-committal about the future of open net-pen farms citing the
"importance of jobs created by fish farming." Musqueam activist
Audrey Siegl responded by asserting "We don't have time for
patience. The time to act is now."
Opposition to Illegal Pipeline Expansion on Traditional
On September 28, a delegation of the
(the people of Kanehsatà:ke) held a press conference at the
entrance of what is known as Oka National Park. Representatives
of the community read out a statement that denounced the illegal
activities of Gazoduc Trans Quebec & Maritime (TQM), a
wholly-owned subsidiary of the two energy monopolies TransCanada
Pipelines Ltd, based in Calgary,
and Gaz Métro Limited Partnership, based in
Montreal, as well as the unacceptable role of the government in
permitting these activities to take place. The statement also points
out the potential danger posed by oil pipelines and unchecked
exploitation of natural resources that destroys the natural
environment. The Kanehsata'kehró:non of Kanehsatà:ke
these activities are being carried out without their free and
prior informed consent as the governments and companies are
required to do under the law.
Evidence of gas pipeline expansion in
TQM is accused of covertly expanding existing gas
on traditional Kanien'kehá:ka (Mohawk) territory that has never
been ceded, contrary to what the federal and Quebec governments
or the Mayor of Oka want people to believe. "The administration
of Oka Park would have the public believe that the only new
activity is the repaving of the existing bike path and that no
new gas pipelines have been installed," said the people's
Ellen Gabriel, a spokesperson for the
explained that those traditional territories have belonged to the
Kanehsata'kehró:non long before the Sulpician Order came to
settle in the area in the 18th century. Gabriel spoke about the
refusal of the federal and Quebec governments to address the
issue, by either not returning her calls, as is the case with the
Quebec Minister responsible for Aboriginal Affairs, or by
stalling tactics, in the case of the Trudeau government. Every
time Gabriel and other representatives of the Mohawk community
have tried to meet with Carolyn Bennett, federal Minister of
Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs, her assistants
would answer, "She is too busy now, we need to reschedule," while
at the same time declaring that "the Minister really wants to
talk with you."
Gabriel said, "The silence and denial of government's
fiduciary obligations to intervene is a disturbing signifier that
Canada intends to continue business as usual as it has done for
the past 150 years of genocide and dispossession. There is no
Reconciliation towards the Kanien'kehá:ka of
matter that could have been resolved 27 years ago [during the
1990 Oka Crisis], and can still be resolved using the UN
Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as the framework
of reconciliation and restitution. But reconciliation must
include reparations and respect for all Indigenous peoples' human
The press conference concluded with the reading of
demands of the women and Rotinonhseshá:ka (People of the
Longhouse) to Canada and Quebec:
- An immediate moratorium be implemented to stop any
development on the traditional territory of the Kanien'kehá:ka
- That Canada begin discussions with the
Kanehsatà:ke to resolve the long standing historical land
- That Canada revoke the Doctrine of Discovery upon
bases its sovereignty and justification of land
- That Gregoire Gollin, owner of Collines d'Oka, and
municipality of Oka cease and desist from selling any land in
Kanehsatà:ke and refund the people who have bought disputed land
at the illegal development site (see item below);
- That TransCanada and Gazoduc remove their
pipelines from Kanehsatà:ke and compensate the
Kanehsatà:ke through a trust fund of our creation. This trust
fund will support the rebuilding of the traditional institutions
that were targeted by Canada, including the traditional
government of the Rotinonhseshá:ka, our culture and our
Kanien'keha language; and
- That any development to take place on our traditional
territory of the Kanien'kehá:ka of Kanehsatà:ke uphold
international human rights standards, in particular the UN
Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and its principle
of free prior and informed consent.
They underscored the necessity for governments to
the Rule of Law and the peoples' right to say "No," saying that "the
Law requires implementation of various Supreme Court of Canada
decisions like Sparrow and Delgamuukw, which require
and accommodation of 'Aboriginal peoples.' More importantly,
Kanien'kehá:ka traditional customary law governs any development
impacting our lands, territories and resources and requires the
consent of the Kanien'keháka Nation before it can proceed. And,
not just their government funded band councils."
A traditional ceremony led by an Indigenous elder
press conference and everyone present was invited to the
Southwestern edge of Oka National Park to see the area where
Gazoduc TQM has started underground expansion of the existing gas
1. TransCanada is behind the widely-opposed Energy East
Pipeline Project. The Energy East project
aims to transform a 40-year-old 2,000-km gas pipeline into an oil
pipeline to transport "dilbit" from the tar sands to the east
coast. Dilbit or diluted bitumen is a toxic mixture of tar sands
bitumen and chemicals used to make it thin enough to pump through
pipelines. There is great concern about the danger this poses to
the land and water. The pipeline crosses the Ottawa River near
Oka, Quebec where the river becomes the Lake of Two Mountains,
upstream from metropolitan Montreal, which is the sole
source of drinking water for close to three million people. A
federal government report recently confirmed that dilbit sinks
when mixed with sediment, which would make waterway cleanup
efforts extremely difficult. This is consistent with the U.S.
experience of the massive 2010 dilbit spill in Kalamazoo,
Michigan, where more than $1 billion has been spent on cleanup
efforts but the river is still polluted.
Provocative Land Development Begins at
Site of 1990 Oka
An illegal housing development is underway in Oka,
Quebec, on land known locally as "The Pines" that is claimed by the
Kanehsata'kehró:non (people of
Kanehsatà:ke). This encroachment of Mohawk land is precisely
where developers illegally sought to build a golf course in 1990.
Protests have taken place over the summer, exactly 27 years after the
1990 Oka Crisis saw the Canadian state wield massive
military force against the Mohawk's just defence of their
Steve Bonspiel, editor and publisher of Kahnawake's
newspaper The Eastern Door, in a CBC op-ed,
published July 11, the 27th anniversary of the resistance at Oka,
noted the refusal of the Canadian state to do its part to resolve
"The land in dispute? It's
still in the hands of Oka. Mohawk
land -- illegally taken. Yet no one is doing anything to take it
"Forget the negotiations; it's our land, so why is
dealing all the cards? Shame on the municipal, provincial and
federal governments, all of which continue to be complicit in the
oppression and control of our people.
"What kind of 'proud' country continues to profit off
theft of our land, and continually denies our right to get some
of it back, yet tells everyone how great it is by celebrating 150
years of colonialism?
"If anything, we should be talking about the return of
illegally begotten Mohawk land, not just that small tract.
"If we keep allowing the outright thievery of what has
been ours, what will we have left...."
Despite nothing having been resolved since the events
1990, the City of Oka has nonetheless granted permits for the
housing projects on land over which it has no
jurisdiction. A July 25 item in the National Observer
"[Mayor of Oka Pascal Quevillon] says he cannot stop
construction of the housing development or Oka could be sued and
its citizens could pay 'millions' of dollars. He said he doesn't
believe that would be fair to his community.
"'Only the federal [government] can tell us to stop
authorizing the construction on these lands, but the federal
[government] will have to financially compensate the land owner,
the developer and the municipality if it does that.'
"He says this is a problem to resolve between the
government and the Kanesatake community."
Why has the Canadian government neglected its duty to
the historical injustices and dispossession? Leaving the status
quo intact has inevitably created a situation where a repeat of
the 1990 Oka Crisis could happen. Will the Kanehsata'kehró:non
forced to physically block or eject the developer? Will the
Canadian state and monopoly media respond with racist and
hysterical claims about "violent Natives," claim economic damage
against the developer, and threaten the Kanehsata'kehró:non with
state violence once again? Clearly the spectacle of the armed
standoff in Oka in 1990, the broad public support for the
Kanehsata'kehró:non and the fact that major bloodshed was only
narrowly avoided -- due in no small part to caution and
discipline on the part of the Mohawk Warriors under the
leadership of their elders -- has not sobered up the Canadian
state and the ruling elite one bit in 27 years.
March marks 25th
anniversary of Oka
uprising, July 11, 2015.
If the government was sincere about finding a just
to this land claim, it would obviously act quite differently and
ensure that at least a moratorium on development is put in place
until a negotiated resolution is reached, rather than permitting
land developers to create facts on the ground that will only
undermine the Kanien'kehá:ka land claims and negotiating
position, and sow divisions between them and their neighbours in
Oka. It is said the Canadian state is holding negotiations over
the disputed land with the Mohawk band council elected under the
auspices of the Indian Act. Even if this is true, such
negotiations cannot possibly be in good faith when the people do
not know what is going on, and the government will not intervene
in situations such as this. The government's actions make clear
that in Kanehsatà:ke and elsewhere, the aim of the Canadian
remains dispossession of Indigenous peoples.
The situation requires that people in Canada and Quebec
their duty and step up their support for the just demands of the
Indigenous peoples, and organize for their own empowerment to
bring modern arrangements into being based on genuine
nation-to-nation relations and the recognition of rights.
The Pines Are Mohawk Land!
Get Off Mohawk Land!
No to a Repeat of the 1990 Oka Crisis!
Canadian State to Account for the Dispossession of
The White Paper 1969
"In spite of all
government attempts to convince Indians
accept the white paper, their efforts will fail, because Indians
understand that the path outlined by the Department of Indian
Affairs through its mouthpiece, the Honourable Mr. Chrétien,
leads directly to cultural genocide. We will not walk this
path." -- Harold Cardinal, The Unjust Society
In 1969, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and his Minister
Indian Affairs, Jean Chrétien, unveiled a policy paper that
proposed ending the special legal relationship between Aboriginal
peoples and the Canadian state and dismantling the Indian Act.
This white paper was met with forceful opposition from Aboriginal
leaders across the country and sparked a new era of Indigenous
political organizing in Canada.
The federal government's intention, as described in the
paper, was to achieve equality among all Canadians by eliminating
Indian as a distinct legal status and by regarding Aboriginal
peoples simply as citizens with the same rights, opportunities
and responsibilities as other Canadians. In keeping with
Trudeau's vision of a "just society," the government proposed to
repeal legislation that it considered discriminatory. In this
view, the Indian Act was
discriminatory because it applied only
to Aboriginal peoples and not to Canadians in general. The white
paper stated that removing the unique legal status established by
the Indian Act would "enable
the Indian people to be free -- free to
develop Indian cultures in an environment of legal, social and
economic equality with other Canadians."
To this end, the white paper proposed to:
- Dissolve the Department of Indian Affairs within five
- Abolish the Indian Act
- Convert reserve land to private
property that can be sold by the band or its members
responsibility for Indian affairs from the federal government to
the province and integrate these services into those provided to
other Canadian citizens
- Provide funding for economic
- Appoint a commissioner to address outstanding land
claims and gradually terminate existing treaties
What Led to the White Paper?
By the 1960s, the federal government could not deny
Aboriginal peoples were facing serious socio-economic barriers,
such as greater poverty and higher infant mortality rates than
non-Indigenous Canadians and lower life expectancy and levels of
education. The civil rights movement sweeping the United States
brought public attention to the intense racism and discrimination
experienced by African Americans and other minorities. The
movement also led many Canadians to question inequality and
discrimination in their own society, particularly the treatment
of First Nations.
In 1963, the federal government commissioned University
British Columbia anthropologist Harry B. Hawthorn to investigate
the social conditions of Aboriginal peoples across Canada. In his
report, A Survey of the Contemporary
Indians of Canada: Economic,
Political, Educational Needs and Policies, Hawthorn concluded
that Aboriginal peoples were Canada's most disadvantaged and
marginalized population. They were "citizens minus." Hawthorn
attributed this situation to years of failed government policy,
particularly the residential school system, which left students
unprepared for participation in the contemporary economy.
Hawthorn recommended that Aboriginal peoples be considered
"citizens plus" and be provided with the opportunities and
resources to choose their own lifestyles, whether within reserve
communities or elsewhere. He also advocated ending all forced
assimilation programs, especially the residential schools.
Based on Hawthorn's recommendations, Chrétien
amend the Indian Act. The
federal government began a national
program of consultation with First Nations communities across
Canada. The government distributed the informational booklet Choosing a Path to
reserve communities, organized community
meetings, and in May 1969 brought regional Aboriginal
representatives to Ottawa for a nationwide meeting. During these
consultations, First Nations representatives consistently
expressed concern about Aboriginal and treaty rights, title to
the land, self-determination, and access to education and health
In June 1969, Ottawa, in answer to the consultations,
produced their white paper proposing to dismantle Indian
Responses to the White Paper
across Canada were shocked. The white paper failed to address the
concerns raised by their leaders during the consultation process.
It contained no provisions to recognize and honour First Nations'
special rights, or to recognize and deal with historical
grievances such as title to the land and Aboriginal and treaty
rights, or to facilitate meaningful Indigenous participation in
Canadian policy making.
Though the white paper acknowledged the social
Aboriginal peoples in Canada and to a lesser degree the history
of poor federal policy choices, many Aboriginal peoples viewed
the new policy statement as the culmination of Canada's
long-standing goal to assimilate Indians into mainstream Canadian
society. Aboriginal groups felt that the federal government was
simply, as Harold Cardinal put it, "passing the buck" to the
provinces. Canada was absolving itself of its responsibility for
historical injustices and of its obligation to uphold treaty
rights and maintain Canada's special relationship with First
Nations. First Nations were also outraged that Indigenous
peoples' opinions, expressed during the consultation process,
appeared to have been disregarded. Instead of amending the Indian
Act, the government had decided to simply abolish it.
A forceful spokesperson was Harold Cardinal, the
Cree man who headed up the Indian Association of Alberta.
Cardinal's book The Unjust Society
exposed for the non-Native
public the hypocrisy of the notion that Canada was a "just
society." Cardinal called the white paper "a thinly disguised
programme of extermination through assimilation." He saw the
white paper as a form of cultural genocide. In 1970, the Indian
Association of Alberta, under Cardinal's leadership, rejected the
white paper in their document Citizens
Plus, which became
popularly known as the Red Paper. Citizens
Plus was soon adopted
as the national Indian stance on the white paper. Quoting the
document, Aboriginal organizations across Canada agreed: "There
is nothing more important than our treaties, our lands and the
well-being of our future generations."
In British Columbia, the controversy over the white
sparked a new period of political organizing. With the white
paper as focal point, First Nations across the province came
together in new ways. They were spearheaded by a younger
generation of leaders who, like Cardinal, were university
educated and politically savvy. In November 1969, three
Aboriginal leaders -- Rose Charlie of the Indian Homemakers'
Association, Philip Paul of the Southern Vancouver Island Tribal
Federation, and Don Moses of the North American Indian
Brotherhood -- invited bands across British Columbia to a conference
in Kamloops where they could develop a collective response to the
white paper and discuss the ongoing fight for recognition of
Aboriginal title and rights. Representatives from 140 bands
attended the conference -- at that point the largest meeting ever of
the province's Aboriginal leaders.
The Kamloops conference led to the formation of a new
provincial organization -- the Union of British Columbia Indian
Chiefs (UBCIC) -- whose main focus was the resolution of land
claims. The UBCIC's A Declaration of Indian Rights: The B.C.
Indian Position Paper, or "Brown Paper," of 1970 rejected the
1969 white paper's proposals and asserted that Aboriginal peoples
continued to hold Aboriginal title to the land. The Brown Paper
would become the cornerstone of UBCIC's policy.
Canada, Indian and
Affairs. Statement of the Government
of Canada on Indian Policy.
Ottawa: Department of Indian and Northern Affairs, 1969.
Available online: here
Cairns, Alan. Citizens
State. Vancouver: UBC Press, 2000.
Tennant, Paul. Aboriginal
1849-1989. Vancouver: UBC
Turner, Dale. This
is Not a Peace Pipe: Towards a
Indigenous Philosophy. Toronto: University of Toronto Press,
Weaver, Sally M. Making
1968-1970. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1981.
Responses to the
Cardinal, Harold. The
Indian Association of Alberta. Citizens Plus. ("The Red
Paper") Edmonton: Indian Association of Alberta, 1970.
Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs, A Declaration
Indian Rights: The B.C. Indian Position Paper. Vancouver: UBCIC,
Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs. "Our History."
The Hawthorn Report
Hawthorn, Harry, ed. A Survey of the Contemporary
Canada: Economic, Political, Educational Needs and Policies. 2
vols. Ottawa: Queen's Printer Press, 1966-1967. Available online here.
Weaver, Sally. "The Hawthorn Report: Its Use in the
Canadian Indian Policy." In Anthropology, Public Policy and
Native Peoples in Canada, edited by Noel Dyck and James B.
Waldram. Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press, 1993.
Statement of the Government of Canada on
Indian Policy (The
White Paper, 1969)
Table of Contents
Statement of the
Government of Canada on Indian Policy
(The White Paper,
Presented to the First Session of the Twenty-eighth
Parliament by the Honourable Jean Chrétien, Minister of
Indian Affairs and Northern Development
To be an Indian is to be a man, with all a man's needs
abilities. To be an Indian is also to be different. It is to
speak different languages, draw different pictures, tell
different tales and to rely on a set of values developed in a
Canada is richer for its Indian component, although
been times when diversity seemed of little value to many
But to be a Canadian Indian today is to be someone
in another way. It is to be someone apart -- apart in law, apart
in the provision of government services and, too often, apart in
To be an Indian is to lack power -- the power to act as
of your lands, the power to spend your own money and, too often,
the power to change your own condition.
Not always, but too often, to be an Indian is to be
without a job, a good house, or running water; without knowledge,
training or technical skill and, above all, without those
feelings of dignity and self-confidence that a man must have if
he is to walk with his head held high.
All these conditions of the Indians are the product of
and have nothing to do with their abilities and capacities.
Indian relations with other Canadians began with special
treatment by government and society, and special treatment has
been the rule since Europeans first settled in Canada. Special
treatment has made of the Indians a community disadvantaged and
Obviously, the course of history must be changed.
To be an Indian must be to be free -- free to develop
cultures in an environment of legal, social and economic equality
with other Canadians.
The Government believes that its policies must lead to
full, free and nondiscriminatory participation of the Indian
people in Canadian society. Such a goal requires a break with the
past. It requires that the Indian people's role of dependence be
replaced by a role of equal status, opportunity and
responsibility, a role they can share with all other
This proposal is a recognition of the necessity made
a year's intensive discussions with Indian people throughout
Canada. The Government believes that to continue its past course
of action would not serve the interests of either the Indian
people or their fellow Canadians.
The policies proposed recognize the simple reality that
separate legal status of Indians and the policies which have
flowed from it have kept the Indian people apart from and behind
other Canadians. The Indian people have not been full citizens of
the communities and provinces in which they live and have not
enjoyed the equality and benefits that such participation
The treatment resulting from their different status has
often worse, sometimes equal and occasionally better than that
accorded to their fellow citizens. What matters is that it has
Many Indians, both in isolated communities and in
suffer from poverty. The discrimination which affects the poor,
Indian and non-Indian alike, when compounded with a legal status
that sets the Indian apart, provides dangerously fertile ground
for social and cultural discrimination.
In recent years there has been a rapid increase in the
population. Their health and education levels have improved.
There has been a corresponding rise in expectations that the
structure of separate treatment cannot meet.
A forceful and articulate Indian leadership has
express the aspirations and needs of the Indian community. Given
the opportunity, the Indian people can realize an immense human
and cultural potential that will enhance their own
well-being, that of the regions in which they live and of
Canada as a whole. Faced with a continuation of past policies,
they will unite only in a common frustration.
The Government does not wish to perpetuate policies
carry with them the seeds of disharmony and disunity, policies
which prevent Canadians from fulfilling themselves and
contributing to their society. It seeks a partnership to achieve
a better goal. The partners in this search are the Indian people,
the governments of the provinces, the Canadian community as a
whole and the Government of Canada. As all partnerships do, this
will require consultation, negotiation, give and take, and
co-operation if it is to succeed.
Many years will be needed. Some efforts may fail, but
comes from failure and from what is learned success may follow.
All the partners have to learn; all will have to change many
Governments can set examples, but they cannot change the
hearts of men. Canadians, Indians and non-Indians alike stand at
the crossroads. For Canadian society the issue is whether a
growing element of its population will become full participants
contributing in a positive way to the general well-being or
whether, conversely, the present social and economic gap will
lead to their increasing frustration and isolation, a threat to
the general well-being of society. For many Indian people, one
road does exist, the only road that has existed since
Confederation and before, the road of different status, a road
which has led to a blind alley of deprivation and frustration.
This road, because it is a separate road, cannot lead to full
participation, to equality in practice as well as in theory. In
the pages which follow, the Government has outlined a number of
measures and a policy which it is convinced will offer another
road for Indians, a road that would lead gradually away from
different status to full social, economic and political
participation in Canadian life. This is the choice.
Indian people must be persuaded, must persuade
that this path will lead them to a fuller and richer life.
Canadian society as a whole will have to recognize the
for changed attitudes and a truly open society. Canadians should
recognize the dangers of failing to strike down the barriers
which frustrate Indian people. If Indian people are to become
full members of Canadian society they must be warmly welcomed by
The Government commends this policy for the
all Canadians, Indians and non-Indians, and all governments in
The Government has reviewed its programs for Indians and
considered the effects of them on the present situation of the
Indian people. The review has drawn on extensive consultations
with the Indian people, and on the knowledge and experience of
many people both in and out of government.
This review was a response to things said by the Indian
at the consultation meetings which began a year ago and
culminated in a meeting in Ottawa in April.
This review has shown that this is the right time to
long-standing policies. The Indian people have shown their
determination that present conditions shall not persist.
Opportunities are present today in Canadian society and
directions are open. The Government believes that Indian people
must not be shut out of Canadian life and must share equally in
The Government could press on with the policy of
further education; could go ahead with physical improvement
programs now operating in reserve communities; could press
forward in the directions of recent years, and eventually many of
the problems would be solved. But progress would be too slow. The
change in Canadian society in recent years has been too great and
continues too rapidly for this to be the answer. Something more
is needed. We can no longer perpetuate the separation of
Canadians. Now is the time to change.
This Government believes in equality. It believes that
and women have equal rights. It is determined that all shall be
treated fairly and that no one shall be shut out of Canadian
life, and especially that no one shall be shut out because of his
This belief is the basis for the Government's
open the doors of opportunity to all Canadians, to remove the
barriers which impede the development of people, of regions and
of the country.
Only a policy based on this belief can enable the Indian
people to realize their needs and aspirations.
The Indian people are entitled to such a policy. They
entitled to an equality which preserves and enriches Indian
identity and distinction; an equality which stresses Indian
participation in its creation and which manifests itself in all
aspects of Indian life.
The goals of the Indian people cannot be set by others;
must spring from the Indian community itself -- but government can
create a framework within which all persons and groups can seek
their own goals.
True equality presupposes that the Indian people have
right to full and equal participation in the cultural, social,
economic and political life of Canada.
The government believes that the framework within which
individual Indians and bands could achieve full participation
- that the legislative and constitutional
bases of discrimination be removed;
- that there be
positive recognition by everyone of the unique contribution of
Indian culture to Canadian life;
- that services come
through the same channels and from the same government agencies
for all Canadians;
- that those who are furthest behind be
- that lawful obligations be recognized;
- that control of Indian lands be transferred to the
The Government would be prepared to take the
steps to create this framework:
- Propose to
Parliament that the Indian Act
be repealed and take such
legislative steps as may be necessary to enable Indians to
control Indian lands and to acquire title to them.
- Propose to the governments of the provinces that they
over the same responsibility for Indians that they have for other
citizens in their provinces. The take-over would be accompanied
by the transfer to the provinces of federal funds normally
provided for Indian programs, augmented as may be necessary.
- Make substantial funds available for Indian economic
development as an interim measure.
- Wind up that part of
the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development which
deals with Indian Affairs. The residual responsibilities of the
Federal Government for programs in the field of Indian affairs
would be transferred to other appropriate federal
In addition, the Government will appoint a Commissioner
consult with the Indians and to study and recommend acceptable
procedures for the adjudication of claims.
The new policy looks to a better future for all Indian
wherever they may be. The measures for implementation are
straightforward. They require discussion, consultation and
negotiation with the Indian people -- individuals, bands and
associations and with provincial governments.
Success will depend upon the co-operation and assistance
the Indians and the provinces. The Government seeks this
cooperation and will respond when it is offered.
3 The Immediate
Some changes could take place quickly. Others would take
longer. It is expected that within five years the Department of
Indian Affairs and Northern Development would cease to operate in
the field of Indian affairs; the new laws would be in effect and
existing programs would have been devolved. The Indian lands
would require special attention for some time. The process of
transferring control to the Indian people would be under
The Government believes this is a policy which is just
necessary. It can only be successful if it has the support of the
Indian people, the provinces, and all Canadians.
The policy promises all Indian people a new opportunity
expand and develop their identity within the framework of a
Canadian society which offers them the rewards and
responsibilities of participation, the benefits of involvement
and the pride of belonging.
The weight of history affects us all, but it presses
heavily on the Indian people. Because of history, Indians today
are the subject of legal discrimination; they have grievances
because of past undertakings that have been broken or
misunderstood; they do not have full control of their lands; and
a higher proportion of Indians than other Canadians suffer
poverty in all its debilitating forms. Because of history too,
Indians look to a special department of the Federal Government
for many of the services that other Canadians get from provincial
or local governments.
This burden of separation has its origin deep in
and in early French and British colonial policy. The elements
which grew to weigh so heavily were deeply entrenched at the time
Before that time there had evolved a policy of entering
agreements with the Indians, of encouraging them to settle on
reserves held by the Crown for their use and benefit, and of
dealing with Indian lands through a separate organization a
policy of treating Indian people as a race apart.
After Confederation, these well-established precedents
followed and expanded. Exclusive legislative authority was given
the Parliament of Canada in relation to "Indians, and Lands
reserved for the Indians" under Head 24 of Section 91 of the British North America Act.
Special legislation -- an Indian Act
was passed, new treaties were entered into, and a network of
administrative offices spread across the country either in
advance of or along with the tide of settlement.
This system -- special legislation, a special land
separate administration for the Indian people -- continues to be
the basis of present Indian policy. It has saved for the Indian
people places they can call home, but has carried with it serious
human and physical as well as administrative disabilities.
Because the system was in the hands of the Federal
the Indians did not participate in the growth of provincial and
local services. They were not required to participate in the
development of their own communities which were tax exempt. The
result was that the Indians persuaded that property taxes were an
unnecessary element in their lives, did not develop services for
themselves. For many years such simple and limited services as
were required to sustain life were provided through a network of
Indian agencies reflecting the authoritarian tradition of a
colonial administration, and until recently these agencies had
staff and funds to do little more than meet the most severe cases
of hardship and distress.
The tradition of federal responsibility for Indian
inhibited the development of a proper relationship between the
provinces and the Indian people as citizens. Most provinces,
faced with their own problems of growth and change, left
responsibility for their Indian residents to the Federal
Government. Indeed, successive Federal Governments did little to
change the pattern. The result was that Indians were the almost
exclusive concern of one agency of the Federal Government for
nearly a century.
For a long time the problems of physical, legal and
administrative separation attracted little attention. The Indian
people were scattered in small groups across the country, often
in remote areas. When they were in contact with the new settlers,
there was little difference between the living standards of the
Initially, settlers as well as Indians depended on game,
and fur. The settlers, however, were more concerned with clearing
land and establishing themselves and differences soon began to
With the technological change of the twentieth century,
society became increasingly industrial and complex, and the
separateness of the Indian people became more evident. Most
Canadians moved to the growing cities, but the Indians remained
largely a rural people, lacking both education and opportunity.
The land was being developed rapidly, but many reserves were
located in places where little development was possible. Reserves
were usually excluded from development and many began to stand
out as islands of poverty. The policy of separation had become a
The legal and administrative discrimination in the
of Indian people has not given them an equal chance of success.
It has exposed them to discrimination in the broadest and worst
sense of the term a discrimination that has profoundly
affected their confidence that success can be theirs.
Discrimination breeds discrimination by example, and the
separateness of Indian people has affected the attitudes of other
Canadians towards them.
The system of separate legislation and administration
separated people of Indian ancestry into three groups --
registered Indians, who are further divided into those who are
under treaty and those who are not; enfranchised Indians who
lost, or voluntarily relinquished, their legal status as Indians;
and the Métis, who are of Indian ancestry but never had
the status of registered Indians.
The Case for the New Policy
In the past ten years or so, there have been important
improvements in education, health, housing, welfare and community
development. Developments in leadership among the Indian
communities have become increasingly evident. Indian people have
begun to forge a new unity. The Government believes progress can
come from these developments but only if they are met by new
responses. The proposed policy is a new response.
The policy rests upon the fundamental right of Indian
to full and equal participation in the cultural, social, economic
and political life of Canada.
To argue against this right is to argue for
isolation and separation. No Canadian should be excluded from
participation in community life, and none should expect to
withdraw and still enjoy the benefits that flow to those who
1 The Legal
Legislative and constitutional bases of
must be removed.
Canada cannot seek the just society and keep
legislation on its statute books. The Government believes this to
be self-evident. The ultimate aim of removing the specific
references to Indians from the constitution may take some time,
but it is a goal to be kept constantly in view. In the meantime,
barriers created by special legislation can generally be struck
Under the authority of Head 24, Section 91 of the British
North America Act, the Parliament of Canada has enacted the Indian Act.
Various federal-provincial agreements and some other
statutes also affect Indian policies.
In the long term, removal of the reference in the
would be necessary to end the legal distinction between Indians
and other Canadians. In the short term, repeal of the Indian Act
and enactment of transitional legislation to ensure the orderly
management of Indian land would do much to mitigate the
The ultimate goal could not be achieved quickly, for it
requires a change in the economic circumstances of the Indian
people and much preliminary adjustment with provincial
authorities. Until the Indian people are satisfied that their
land holdings are solely within their control, there may have to
be some special legislation for Indian lands.
2 The Indian
There must be positive recognition by everyone of
unique contribution of Indian culture to Canadian
It is important that Canadians recognize and give credit
the Indian contribution. It manifests itself in many ways; yet it
goes largely unrecognized and unacknowledged. Without recognition
by others it is not easy to be proud.
All of us seek a basis for pride in our own lives, in
our families and of our ancestors. Man needs such pride to
sustain him in the inevitable hour of discouragement, in the
moment when he faces obstacles, whenever life seems turned
against him. Everyone has such moments. We manifest our pride in
many ways, but always it supports and sustains us. The legitimate
pride of the Indian people has been crushed too many times by too
many of their fellow Canadians. The principle of equality and all
that goes with it demands that all of us recognize each other's
cultural heritage as a source of personal strength.
Canada has changed greatly since the first Indian Act
passed. Today it is made up of many people with many cultures.
Each has its own manner of relating to the other; each makes its
own adjustments to the larger society.
Successful adjustment requires that the larger groups
every group with its distinctive traits without prejudice, and
that all groups share equitably in the material and non-material
wealth of the country.
For many years Canadians believed the Indian people had
two choices: they could live in a reserve community, or they
could be assimilated and lose their Indian identity. Today Canada
has more to offer. There is a third choice -- a full role in
Canadian society and in the economy while retaining,
strengthening and developing an Indian identity which preserves
the good things of the past and helps Indian people to prosper
This choice offers great hope for the Indian people. It
great opportunity for Canadians to demonstrate that in our open
society there is room for the development of people who preserve
their different cultures and take pride in their diversity.
This new opportunity to enrich Canadian life is central
Government's new policy. If the policy is to be successful, the
Indian people must be in a position to play a full role in
Canada's diversified society, a role which stresses the value of
their experience and the possibilities of the future.
The Indian contribution to North American society is
overlooked, even by the Indian people themselves. Their history
and tradition can be a rich source of pride, but are not
sufficiently known and recognized. Too often, the art forms which
express the past are preserved, but are inaccessible to most
Indian people. This richness can be shared by all Canadians.
Indian people must be helped to become aware of their history and
heritage in all its forms, and this heritage must be brought
before all Canadians in all its rich diversity.
Indian culture also lives through Indian speech and
The Indian languages are unique and valuable assets. Recognizing
their value is not a matter of preserving ancient ways as
fossils, but of ensuring the continuity of a people by
encouraging and assisting them to work at the continuing
development of their inheritance in the context of the
present-day world. Culture lives and develops in the daily life
of people, in their communities and in their other associations,
and the Indian culture can be preserved, perpetuated and
developed only by the Indian people themselves.
The Indian people have often been made to feel that
culture and history are not worthwhile. To lose a sense of
worthiness is damaging. Success in life, in adapting to change,
and in developing appropriate relations within the community as
well as in relation to a wider world, requires a strong sense of
personal worth -- a real sense of identity.
Rich in folklore, in art forms and in concepts of
life, the Indian cultural heritage can grow and expand further to
enrich the general society. Such a development is essential if
the Indian people are again to establish a meaningful sense of
identity and purpose and if Canada is to realize its maximum
The Government recognizes that people of Indian ancestry
be helped in new ways in this task. It proposes, through the
Secretary of State, to support associations and groups in
developing a greater appreciation of their cultural heritage. It
wants to foster adequate communication among all people of Indian
descent and between them and the Canadian community as a
Steps will be taken to enlist the support of Canadians
generally. The provincial governments will be approached to
support this goal through their many agencies operating in the
field Provincial educational authorities will be urged to
intensify their review of school curriculae and course content
with a view to ensuring that they adequately reflect Indian
culture and Indian contributions to Canadian development.
3 Programs and
Services must come through the same channels and
same government agencies for all Canadians.
This is an undeniable part of equality. It has been
times that separation of people follows from separate services.
There can be no argument about the principle of common services.
It is right.
It cannot be accepted now that Indians should be
constitutionally excluded from the right to be treated within
their province as full and equal citizens, with all the
responsibilities and all the privileges that this might entail.
It is in the provincial sphere where social remedies are
structured and applied, and the Indian people, by and large, have
been non-participating members of provincial society.
Canadians receive a wide range of services through
and local governments, but the Indian people and their
communities are mostly outside that framework. It is no longer
acceptable that the Indian people should be outside and apart.
The Government believes that services should be available on an
equitable basis, except for temporary differentiation based on
need. Services ought not to flow from separate agencies
established to serve particular groups, especially not to groups
that are identified ethnically.
Separate but equal services do not provide truly equal
treatment. Treatment has not been equal in the case of Indians
and their communities. Many services require a wide range of
facilities which cannot be duplicated by separate agencies.
Others must be integral to the complex systems of community and
regional life and cannot be matched on a small scale.
The Government is therefore convinced that the
method of providing separate services to Indians must be ended.
All Indians should have access to all programs and services of
all levels of government equally with other Canadians.
The Government proposes to negotiate with the provinces
conclude agreements under which Indian people would participate
in and be served by the full programs of the provincial and local
systems. Equitable financial arrangements would be sought to
ensure that services could be provided in full measure
commensurate with the needs. The negotiations must seek
agreements to end discrimination while ensuring that no harm is
inadvertently done to Indian interests. The Government further
proposes that federal disbursements for Indian programs in each
province be transferred to that province. Subject to negotiations
with the provinces, such provisions would as a matter of
principle eventually decline, the provinces ultimately assuming
the same responsibility for services to Indian residents as they
do for services to others.
At the same time, the Government proposes to transfer
remaining federal responsibilities for Indians from the
Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development to other
departments, including the Departments of Regional Economic
Expansion, Secretary of State, and Manpower and Immigration.
It is important that such transfers take place without
disrupting services and that special arrangements not be
compromised while they are subject to consultation and
negotiation. The Government will pay particular attention to
4 Enriched Services
Those who are furthest behind must be helped
There can be little argument that conditions for many
people are not satisfactory to them and are not acceptable to
others. There can be little question that special services, and
especially enriched services, will be needed for some time.
Equality before the law and in programs and services
necessarily result in equality in social and economic conditions.
For that reason, existing programs will be reviewed. The
Department of Regional Economic Expansion, the Department of
Manpower and Immigration, and other federal departments involved
would be prepared to evolve programs that would help break past
patterns of deprivation.
Additional funds would be available from a number of
sources. In an atmosphere of greater freedom, those who are able
to do so would be expected to help themselves, so more funds
would be available to help those who really need it. The transfer
of Indian lands to Indian control should enable many individuals
and groups to move ahead on their own initiative. This in turn
would free funds for further enrichment of programs to help those
who are furthest behind. By ending some programs and replacing
them with others evolved within the community, a more effective
use of funds would be achieved. Administrative savings would
result from the elimination of separate agencies as various
levels of government bring general programs and resources to
bear. By broadening the base of service agencies, this enrichment
could be extended to all who need it. By involving more agencies
working at different levels, and by providing those agencies with
the means to make them more effective, the Government believes
that root problems could be attacked, that solutions could be
found that hitherto evaded the best efforts and best-directed of
The economic base for many Indians is their reserve
the development of reserves has lagged.
Among the many factors that determine economic growth of
reserves, their location and size are particularly important.
There are a number of reserves located within or near growing
industrial areas which could provide substantial employment and
income to their owners if they were properly developed. There are
other reserves in agricultural areas which could provide a
livelihood for a larger number of family units than is presently
the case. The majority of the reserves, however, are located in
the boreal or wooded regions of Canada, most of them
geographically isolated and many having little economic
potential. In these areas, low income, unemployment and
under-employment are characteristic of Indians and non-Indians
Even where reserves have economic potential, the Indians
been handicapped. Private investors have been reluctant to supply
capital for projects on land which cannot be pledged as security.
Adequate social and risk capital has not been available from
public sources. Most Indians have not had the opportunity to
acquire managerial experience, nor have they been offered
sufficient technical assistance.
The Government believes that the Indian people should
opportunity to develop the resources of their reserves so they
may contribute to their own well-being and the economy of the
nation. To develop Indian reserves to the level of the regions in
which they are located will require considerable capital over a
period of some years, as well as the provision of managerial and
technical advice. Thus the Government believes that all programs
and advisory services of the federal and provincial governments
should be made readily available to Indians.
In addition, and as an interim measure, the Government
proposes to make substantial additional funds available for
investment in the economic progress of the Indian people. This
would overcome the barriers to early development of Indian lands
and resources, help bring Indians into a closer working
relationship with the business community, help finance their
adjustment to new employment opportunities, and facilitate access
to normal financial sources.
Even if the resources of Indian reserves are fully
however, they cannot all properly support their present Indian
populations, much less the populations of the future. Many
Indians will, as they are now doing, seek employment elsewhere as
a means of solving their economic problems. Jobs are vital and
the Government intends that the full counselling, occupational
training and placement resources of the Department of Manpower
and Immigration are used to further employment opportunities for
Indians. The government will encourage private employers to
provide opportunities for the Indian people.
In many situations, the problems of Indians are similar
those faced by their non-Indian neighbours. Solutions to their
problems cannot be found in isolation but must be sought within
the context of regional development plans involving all the
people. The consequence of an integrated regional approach is
that all levels of government federal, provincial and local
-- and the people themselves are involved. Helping overcome
regional disparities in the economic well-being of Canadians is
the main task assigned to the Department of Regional Economic
Expansion. The Government believes that the needs of Indian
communities should be met within this framework.
5 Claims and
Lawful obligations must be recognized
Many of the Indian people feel that successive
have not dealt with them as fairly as they should. They believe
that lands have been taken from them in an improper manner, or
without adequate compensation, that their funds have been
improperly administered, that their treaty rights have been
breached. Their sense of grievance influences their relations
with governments and the community and limits their participation
in Canadian life.
Many Indians look upon their treaties as the source of
rights to land, to hunting and fishing privileges, and to other
benefits. Some believe the treaties should be interpreted to
encompass wider services and privileges, and many believe the
treaties have not been honoured. Whether or not this is correct
in some or many cases, the fact is the treaties affect only half
the Indians of Canada. Most of the Indians of Quebec, British
Columbia, and the Yukon are not parties to a treaty.
The terms and effects of the treaties between the Indian
people and the Government are widely misunderstood. A plain
reading of the words used in the treaties reveals the limited and
minimal promises which were included in them. As a result of the
treaties, some Indians were given an initial cash payment and
were promised land reserved for their exclusive use, annuities,
protection of hunting, fishing and trapping privileges subject
(in most cases) to regulation, a school or teachers in most
instances and, in one treaty only, a medicine chest.
There were some other minor considerations, such as the
provision of twine and ammunition.
The annuities have been paid regularly. The basic
set aside reserve land has been kept except in respect of the
Indians of the Northwest Territories and a few bands in the
northern parts of the Prairie Provinces. These Indians did not
choose land when treaties were signed. The government wishes to
see these obligations dealt with as soon as possible.
The right to hunt and fish for food is extended unevenly
across the country and not always in relation to need. Although
game and fish will become less and less important for survival as
the pattern of Indian life continues to change, there are those
who, at this time, still live in the traditional manner that
their forefathers lived in when they entered into treaty with the
government. The Government is prepared to allow such persons
transitional freer hunting of migratory birds under the Migratory
Birds Convention Act and Regulations.
The significance of the treaties in meeting the
educational, health and welfare needs of the Indian people has
always been limited and will continue to decline. The services
that have been provided go far beyond what could have been
foreseen by those who signed the treaties.
The Government and the Indian people must reach a common
understanding of the future role of the treaties. Some provisions
will be found to have been discharged; others will have
continuing importance. Many of the provisions and practices of
another century may be considered irrelevant in light of a
rapidly changing society and still others may be ended by mutual
agreement. Finally, once Indian lands are securely within Indian
control, the anomaly of treaties between groups within society
and the government of that society will require that these
treaties be reviewed to -- how they can be equitably ended.
Other grievances have been asserted in more general
is possible that some of these can be verified by appropriate
research and may be susceptible of specific remedies. Others
relate to aboriginal claims to land. These are so general and
undefined it is not realistic to think of them as specific claims
capable of remedy except through a policy and program that will
end injustice to Indians as members of the Canadian community.
This is the policy that the Government is proposing for
At the recent consultation meeting in Ottawa
of the Indians, chosen at each of the earlier regional meetings,
expressed concern about the extent of their knowledge of Indian
rights and treaties. They indicated a desire to undertake further
research to establish their rights with greater precision,
elected a National Committee on Indian Rights and Treaties for
this purpose and sought government financial support for
The Government had intended to introduce legislation to
establish an Indian Claims Commission to hear and determine
Indian claims. Consideration of the questions raised at the
consultations and the review of Indian policy have raised serious
doubts as to whether a Claims Commission as proposed to
Parliament in 1965 is the right way to deal with the grievances
of Indians put forward as claims.
The Government has concluded that further study and
are required by both the Indians and the Government. It will
appoint a Commissioner who, in consultation with representatives
of the Indians, will inquire into and report upon how claims
arising in respect of the performance of the terms of treaties
and agreements formally entered into by representatives of the
Indians and the Crown, and the administration of moneys and lands
pursuant to schemes established by legislation for the benefit of
Indians may be adjudicated.
The Commissioner will also classify the claims that in
judgment ought to be referred to the courts or any special
quasijudicial body that may be recommended.
It is expected that the Commissioner's inquiry will go
concurrently with that of the National Indian Committee on Indian
Rights and Treaties and the Commissioner will be authorized to
recommend appropriate support to the Committee so that it may
conduct research on the Indians' behalf and assist the
Commissioner in his inquiry.
6 Indian Lands
Control of Indian lands should be transferred to
Frustration is as great a handicap as a sense of
True co-operation and participation can come only when the Indian
people are controlling the land which makes up the reserves.
The reserve system has provided the Indian people with
that generally have been protected against alienation without
their consent. Widely scattered across Canada, the reserves total
nearly 6,000,000 acres and are divided into about 2,200 parcels
of varying sizes. Under the existing system, title to reserve
lands is held either by the Crown in right of Canada or the Crown
in right of one of the provinces. Administrative control and
legislative authority are, however, vested exclusively in the
Government and the Parliament of Canada. It is a trust. As long
as this trust exists, the Government, as a trustee, must
supervise the business connected with the land.
The result of Crown ownership and the Indian Act has
tie the Indian people to a land system that lacks flexibility and
inhibits development. If an Indian band wishes to gain income by
leasing its land, it has to do so through a cumbersome system
involving the Government as trustee. It cannot mortgage reserve
land to finance development on its own initiative. Indian people
do not have control of their lands except as the Government
allows and this is no longer acceptable to them. The Indians have
made this clear at the consultation meetings. They now want real
control, and this Government believes that they should have it.
The Government recognizes that full and true equality calls for
Indian control and ownership of reserve land.
Between the present system and the full holding of title
fee simple lie a number of intermediate states. The first step is
to change the system under which ministerial decision is required
for all that is done with Indian land. This is where the delays,
the frustrations and the obstructions lie. The Indians must
control their land. This can be done in many ways. The Government
believes that each band must make its own decision as to the way
it wants to take control of its land and the manner in which it
intends to manage it. It will take some years to complete the
process of devolution.
The Government believes that full ownership implies many
things. It carries with it the free choice of use, of retention
or of disposition. In our society it also carries with it an
obligation to pay for certain services. The Government recognizes
that it may not be acceptable to put all lands into the
provincial systems immediately and make them subject to taxes.
When the Indian people see that the only way they can own and
fully control land is to accept taxation the way other Canadians
do, they will make that decision.
Alternative methods for the control of their lands will
made available to Indian individuals and bands. Whatever methods
of land control are chosen by the Indian people, the present
system under which the Government must execute all leases,
supervise and control procedures and surrenders, and generally
act as trustee, must be brought to an end. But the Indian land
heritage should be protected. Land should be alienated from them
only by the consent of the Indian people themselves. Under a
proposed Indian Lands Act full management would be in the hands
of the bands and, if the bands wish, they or individuals would be
able to take title to their land without restrictions.
As long as the Crown controls the land for the benefit
bands who use and occupy it, it is responsible for determining
who may, as a member of a band, share in the assets of band land.
The qualifications for band membership which it has imposed are
part of the legislation -- the Indian
Act governing the
administration of reserve lands. Under the present Act, the
Government applies and interprets these qualifications. When
bands take title to their lands, they will be able to define and
apply these qualifications themselves.
The Government is prepared to transfer to the Indian
the reserve lands, full control over them and, subject to the
proposed Indian Lands Act, the right to determine who shares in
ownership. The Government proposes to seek agreements with the
bands and, where necessary, with the governments of the
provinces. Discussions will be initiated with the Indian people
and the provinces to this end.
Implementation of the
1 Indian Associations and
Successful implementation of the new policy would
further development of a close working relationship with the
Indian community. This was made abundantly clear in the proposals
set forth by the National Indian Brotherhood at the national
meeting to consult on revising the Indian
Act. Their brief
succinctly identified the needs at that time and offers a basis
for discussing the means of adaptation to the new policy.
To this end the Government proposes to invite the
of the National Indian Brotherhood and the various provincial
associations to discuss the role they might play in the
implementation of the new policy, and the financial resources
they may require. The Government recognizes their need for
independent advice, especially on legal matters. The Government
also recognizes that the discussions will place a heavy burden on
Indian leaders during the adjustment period. Special arrangements
will have to be made so that they may take the time needed to
meet and discuss all aspects of the new policy and its
Needs and conditions vary greatly from province to
since the adjustments would be different in each case, the bulk
of the negotiations would likely be with the provincial bodies,
regional groups and the bands themselves. There are those matters
which are of concern to all, and the National Indian Brotherhood
would be asked to act in liaison with the various provincial
associations and with the federal departments which would have
The Government proposes to ask the associations act as
principal agencies through which consultation and negotiations
would he conducted, but each band would be consulted about
gaining ownership of its land holdings. Bands would be asked to
designate the association through which their broad interests
would be represented.
2 Transitional Period
The Government hopes to have the bulk of the policy in
within five years and believes that the necessary financial and
other arrangements can be concluded so that Indians will have
full access to provincial services within that time. It will seek
an immediate start to the many discussions that will need to be
held with the provinces and with representatives of the Indian
The role of the Department of Indian Affairs and
Development in serving the Indian people would be phased out as
arrangements with the provinces were completed and remaining
Federal Government responsibilities transferred to other
The Commissioner will be appointed soon and instructed
on with his work.
Steps would be taken in consultation with
the Indian people to transfer control of land to them. Because of
the need to consult over five hundred bands the process would
take some time.
A policy can never provide the ultimate solutions to
problems. A policy can achieve no more than is desired by the
people it is intended to serve. The essential role of the
Government's proposed new policy for Indians is that it
acknowledges that truth by recognizing the central and essential
role of the Indian people in solving their own problems. It will
provide for first time, a non-discriminatory framework within
which, in an atmosphere of freedom, the Indian people could, with
other Canadians, work out their own destiny.
Sir John A. MacDonald's Reign of Terror
On the eve of official celebrations of Canadian
Confederation 150 years ago, on June 21 Prime Minister Justin
Trudeau made a big gesture to show how committed he is to
righting historical wrongs committed against Canada's original
peoples. He changed the name of the building in which his
government office is located on Wellington street in Ottawa,
across from the Parliament of Canada so that it would no longer
be known as the Langevin Block. Canadians are told that
Hector-Louis Langevin, was a "lesser father of Confederation" and
the architect of the genocidal Residential School System.
It is high time all names of those heroes of British
colonialism and the ruling class who committed crimes against the
peoples be removed and replaced with names of actual heroes of
the people, decided by the people. But Trudeau's gesture is suspect,
proving hollow indeed because he does not want to countenance the
removal of other names from all public buildings and streets beginning
with that of John A. MacDonald who was by no means a "lesser father of
Confederation" and, on the contrary, along with Georges-Étienne
Cartier, one of the two most prominent. Most importantly, MacDonald was
himself a most ardent architect of genocide.
In May 1883, John A. MacDonald laid out the aim of the
residential schools in the House of Commons. He declared:
"When the school is on the reserve the child lives with
parents, who are savages; he is surrounded by savages, and though
he may learn to read and write his habits, and training and mode
of thought are Indian. He is simply a savage who can read and
write [T]he Indian children should be withdrawn as much as
possible from the parental influence, and the only way to do that
would be to put them in central training industrial schools where
they will acquire the habits and modes of thought of white
On January 3, 1887 John A. MacDonald declared one of
goals of Confederation to be to extinguish the Indigenous
"The great aim of our legislation has been to do away
the tribal system and to assimilate Indian people in all respects
with the other inhabitants of the Dominion, as speedily as they
are fit for the change."
MacDonald was also the person who arranged for the
of the Métis people in the territories which later became
Manitoba and Saskatchewan and organized to have their leader
Louis Riel hanged as a traitor. In 1870 he sent the military
expedition of 1,200 under the command of the British Army Colonel
Garnet Wolseley to crush the Métis' uprising in Manitoba led by
Louis Riel. The newspapers in Red River, Montreal, Toronto, New
York and St. Paul labelled the violent behaviour of the
Expeditionary Force sent by MacDonald -- the same which later
became the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) -- as a "reign of
represented a response to the colonial project that sought to
reproduce the British state in North America and block the
legitimate aspirations of the nations and peoples that comprised
The spirit that motivated Riel and the members of the
provisional government at the time is contained in the
Declaration of the Inhabitants of Rupert's Land and the Northwest
that affirms the sovereignty of the Métis over their lands.
Besides other things, they refused to recognize the authority of
Canada, "[...], which presumes to have the right to come and
impose on us a form of government even more incompatible with our
rights and our interests [...]."
In parallel, the Hudson's Bay Company agreed to sell
Land in Canada to Great Britain for £300,000 [$1,500,000] in cash
in 1869 while retaining 1/20 of the territory's fertile land to
sell to settlers itself and kept all of its trading posts. Great
Britain in turn allowed the Dominion of Canada to annex Rupert's
Land and the North-Western territory, bringing the Hudson's Bay
Company land under the jurisdiction of the new state. It formally
declared them part of the Dominion of Canada. The new colonial
state replaced the Hudson's Bay Company with the direct
annexation of the West, the absentee-owned land. Rupert's Land
was five times the size of the four colonies comprising the new
In the 1870s and 1880s federal policy served the
big capital and the Canadian Pacific Railway -- led by Lord
Strathcona (Donald Alexander Smith) of the Hudson's Bay Company,
and such British banks as Baring Brothers -- for whom the 1867
Confederation was a nation-building project to create new markets
through expansion of the state by armed conquest of traditional
On February 5, 1873, the Charter of the Canadian
Railway Company was signed by the Governor General. Its
provisions pledged the CPR to build the railway within ten years
from July 20, 1871, in consideration of which it was to receive a
land grant of 50,000,000 acres, and a subsidy of $30,000,000
payable from time to time in installments. The Company was
allowed a capital of $10,000,000. Its founder was Sir Hugh Allan
who is described as "one of the most conspicuous men of capital
of his time and as the founder of one of the largest and at
present most powerful Canadian fortunes." To achieve this Sir
Georges Etienne Cartier -- yet another father of Confederation --
wrote the following "private and confidential" letter to Allan on
July 30, 1872:
"The friends of the Government will expect to be
with funds in the pending elections, and any amount which you or
your Company shall advance for that purpose shall be recouped to
you. A memorandum of immediate requirements is below." This
"Sir John A. Macdonald .............. $25,000
Hon. Mr. Langevin ..................... 15,000
Sir. G.E.C. ........................... 20,000
Sir J.A. (add.) ....................... 10,000
Hon. Mr. Langevin .................... 100,000
Sir G.E.C. ............................ 30,000."
On August 7, 1872, Allan wrote, "I have already paid
about $250,000, and will have to pay at least $50,000 before the
end of the month. I don't know as even that will finish it, but
hope so." The "great bribery
scheme" engineered by Sir Hugh Allan
had now reached the point where it was considered that the
machinery of government was "properly fixed."
Much of the bank capital was provided by Baring
financial agents for Canada in London, founded 1810 with origins
back to 1720, as investments it received from human trafficking
in the Atlantic slave trade from which it derived enormous
profits. It owned numerous plantations in St. Kitts and in British
Guiana, for which they received some ten million pounds in
"compensation" from the British state in 1839 as part of the
abolition of chattel slavery. Baring Brothers financed one
quarter of all U.S. railroad construction.
Today the Hudson's
Bay Company ("the Bay") is owned by U.S. venture capitalists.
Today federal policy on Indigenous peoples serves the mainly U.S.
resource monopolies and the creation of a Fortress North America
to defend U.S. "homeland security" and hegemonism over the entire
1. House of Commons [Commons Debates].
(1883, May 9). Cited in: Official report of the debates of the
House of Commons of the Dominion of Canada (Vol. xiv). Ottawa:
Maclean, Roger & Co.
2. Sir John A. Macdonald, 1887 cited by
J.R. Miller, in Skyscrapers Hide the
Heavens, 1989, p. 189
4. Gustavus Myers, History of Canadian
Wealth, 1913. (Sir G.E.C. refers to Cartier).
5. Centre for the
Study of the Legacies of British
Slave-ownership, UCL Department of History, London.