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Aboriginal Peoples Movement

Overcoming Canadian Indifference

Larry Chartrand

on 20 November 2013

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Transcript of Aboriginal Peoples Movement

The political arena?
The legal arena?
The direct contentious approach?
The internal healing approach?
Seeking Justice in Canada
“Every American schoolboy knows that the savage tribes of this continent were deprived of their ancestral ranges by force and that even when the Indians ceded millions of acres by treaty in return for blankets, food and trinkets, it was not a sale but the conqueror’s will that deprived them of their land.”
(Justice Stanley Reed, United States Supreme Court, 1955)
What every School boy knows …
How comfortable are you with the knowledge that you live in a good, just and legally valid country called Canada?
What if there was another nation that might have a stronger claim to sovereignty over the territory of Canada (or the Ottawa [Odawa] valley in particular)?
Hiding the Flag
Aboriginal people are in a process of finding themselves.
Aboriginal peoples are in the process of overcoming a state imposed condition of “collective trauma”, but within a particular political environment that has moved in a positive human rights direction, but still largely contained within an unbending and at times seemingly overwhelming colonial structure.
This struggle is largely one for the warrior.
A Warrior, however, who knows that his/her strength comes primarily from within….
At its Heart
The struggle continues even as I teach this class, even in light of political accords and so called “progressive” court decisions.
Oka, Gustafson Lake, Caledonia, Ipperwash and many other protests , roadblocks, sit-ins and demonstrations continue almost on a daily basis.
The state will continue to justify its taking of Aboriginal lands and enforce this taking by using the courts and the criminal law as a tool to advance its colonial objectives once again.
First Nations peoples will be arrested once again (hopefully without casualties).
the Warrior Movement
The courts simply adopt legal principles to justify the status quo.
Aboriginal law principles do not challenge the illegality of England’s/Canada’s territorial acquisition.
They sometimes compromise by acknowledging the occasional victory.
For example, the courts have recently upheld a right to “consultation” if government wants to take away rights or land.
The Courts
“A few Crumbs”
The Ballot Box?
Lobbying Efforts?
Some significant success
But too dependent on public support?
Alan Cairns realizes this dimension and the significance or lack thereof of general public support all too well.
Political Arena?
The objective of the Aboriginal peoples’ movement is simple.
To be respected as nations equal to all other nations of the Earth.
To exercise the basic right of all peoples and that is the right to self-determination free of paternalism and interference by others.
The Objective
A permanent population (common ethnicity, language, culture, etc..)
A defined territory
A government
Capacity to enter into relations with other states*

* Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of States, (1936)
Indicia of Nationhood
University of Ottawa, 2010
The Aboriginal Peoples Movement
The direct approach is, from this assessment of the other options of pursuing justice, completely understandable and natural.
The perception that justice can only be achieved by doing an end-run around Canadian political and legal institutions is consistent with a more deeper understanding of judicial incompetence in this area and political self-interest.
Direct Contentious Action
This International Declaration sets the minimum standards a state must uphold in relation to Indigenous peoples human rights includes right to self-determination and self-government, recognition of territory and land and the protection of culture and Indigenous institutions of governance.
The United Nations Declaration
Canada’s acquisition of territory in the Ottawa valley, the territory of the Algonquin Nation, was simply taken.
There is no existing treaty between the Algonquin and England or Canada?
Possesses its own version of human creation, spirituality, legal, political and social institutions of governance.
Its sovereignty existed here first.
It still does!
Algonquin Nation
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