What exactly is a ‘nation-to-nation’ relationship? – by Jeffrey Simpson (Globe and Mail – March 25, 2016)

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The Trudeau government wants to improve the lot of aboriginal peoples in Canada. It wishes to elevate their economic standing, give them more control over their own lives, improve their often lamentable social circumstances and engage in “nation-to-nation” relationships.

How a “nation-to-nation” relationship is supposed to work between Canada, with 36 million people, and more than 600 indigenous nations, often with fewer than 1,000 people, remains one of Canada’s policy mysteries. It is one of those phrases that falls off political tongues, but is made difficult when confronted by reality.

That reality is made murkier by disagreements across Canada about who “owns” or has ultimate title to land, disagreements fuelled by court decisions that have been interpreted by indigenous groups as giving them title, even without a proven claim.

Nonetheless, “nation-to-nation” relations is the government’s stated goal. To that end, government ministers are pondering some sort of formula that would offer or guarantee indigenous peoples a share of revenue projects within, say, a certain fiscal band. Whether this formula would be a non-binding framework, or something with more teeth, is unclear.

The law requires that aboriginal groups must be “consulted” if anything is to be done on “their” land. Just what is “their” land, of course, often remains unclear.

For the rest of this article, click here: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/globe-politics-insider/jeffrey-simpson-what-exactly-is-a-nation-to-nation-relationship/article29379888/

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