The past decade has seen a serious change in Indian Country, and it is rapidly coming to a head. Legal decisions have redrawn the Canadian Constitution and now it’s up to the federal government and the rest of Canadians to catch up. The Supreme Court decision last week to recognize federal jurisdiction over Métis and non-status people has rewritten the Constitution and the BNA Act, and reduced the Indian Act to the dumpster of history where it belongs.
According to lawyer Bill Gallagher, author of the book, Resource Rulers, the latest decision constitutes 228 cases that the First Nations and indigenous people have taken to court and won. In the process we have redrawn our relationship with Canada.
When we negotiated for inclusion of treaty and aboriginal rights in the Constitution we received recognition, but no meat was added to the bare bones. Three first ministers’ constitutional conferences were held to define section 35 of the Constitution Act, but absolutely no progress was made. However, we received the right to go to court.
Given our track record since then, I’m sure politicians are looking back at the constitutional conferences and wishing that they had taken us more seriously.
At street level, the decade of darkness that characterized the Stephen Harper years has politicized and radicalized indigenous people, creating a combination of frustration and increased expectations.
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