The 1969 document proposed abolishing the Indian Act, and all existing treaties within Canada and eliminating Indian Status, thus making indigenous people regular members of Canadian society. It was met with widespread criticism and its proposal was withdrawn in 1970. Some opponents see the present document, Recognition and Implementation of Indigenous Rights Framework, as White Paper 2.0, and regard it as a renewed domestication effort by the government.
The official position of the AFN, which represents 634 reserves across the country, is that the framework process has to be led by the country’s first nations, not the government. An AFN news release said the forum would be looking at ways to advance and deal with obstacles on the four key federal policies that require fundamental change: the Specific Claims policy, the Additions to Reserves policy, the Comprehensive Land Claims policy and the Inherent Right policy.
Perry Bellegarde, the president of the Assembly of First Nations, pointed out recently that the government is running out of time to implement its election promises – including two important new laws on indigenous languages and child welfare – before it closes for summer and heads into a re-election campaign.
The country’s upcoming election overshadows the assembly proceedings and adds time pressure for compromise. During his election campaign in 2015, Trudeau promised big changes, from improving infrastructure and education to fashioning a new nation-to-nation relationship with the indigenous groups in the country, which make up 4.9 per cent of Canada’s population. Should Trudeau be defeated in the election, his successor as prime minister might sideline indigenous affairs.
An official inquiry that deemed Canada complicit in a “race-based genocide” against indigenous women has rocked the Trudeau government. The report cited research finding indigenous women were 12 times more likely to be killed or to disappear than other women in Canada. The inquiry blamed the crisis on deep-rooted colonialism and state inaction. Trudeau has pledged to eradicate the causes of violence against indigenous women.
#23131 Published: 06/07/2019