L14(a) - A Wrong Turn Down the Rights Alley: The Possibilities and Limitations of Federal 'Recognition' of Indigenous Rights
Date: Jun 5 | Time: 03:45pm to 05:15pm | Location: SWING 207
Chair/Président/Présidente : Rita Dhamoon (University of Victoria)
Discussant/Commentateur/Commentatrice : Rita Dhamoon (University of Victoria)
Session Abstract: The Canadian federal government is currently in the process of drafting legislation on a proposed Recognition and Implementation of Indigenous Rights Framework. The initiative is presented as part of the federal government’s commitment to reconciliation and is geared towards facilitating the negotiation of self-government agreements with Indigenous nations while providing ‘certainty and clarity’ around federal and provincial obligations to Indigenous peoples. This is not the first time that the federal government has endeavored to amend Canada’s ‘Indian policy’ in the interest of improving its relations with Indigenous peoples. These efforts have most recently revolved around determining which Aboriginal and Treaty rights can find protection under s.35 of the Constitution Act, and whether self-government qualifies as such a right. Yet these processes have by and large failed to reflect Indigenous peoples’ conceptions of inherent rights generally, and the right to self-government in particular.
While existing scholarship and research has highlighted the need to entrench Indigenous rights in legislation, many Indigenous people have interrogated the merits of having their rights recognized within Canadian institutions and have questioned whether these efforts are geared towards substantively transforming, or merely maintaining the status quo. Panelists will take up the potential for government initiatives aimed at ‘recognizing’ Indigenous rights to address longstanding issues of jurisdiction, land, political authority, treaty implementation and gendered power relations, among other relevant questions in Indigenous-state relations.
Recognition of Wrongs: Revisiting the Federal Government’s Framing of Indigenous Rights: Joyce Green (University of Regina), Gina Starblanket (University of Calgary) Abstract: This co-authored paper critically analyzes the federal government’s stated commitment and approach to recognizing and implementing Indigenous governance under the draft Recognition and Implementation of Indigenous Rights Framework. The authors consider the objectives that the federal government has emphasized in the draft framework and seek to re-frame the conversation by interrogating the potential for the framework to fundamentally change or provide redress for past and ongoing wrongs committed by the state on Indigenous peoples. These include but are not limited to colonial violence, the failure to implement treaties, dispossession of land and Indigenous political authority, and state reluctance to implement domestic and international Indigenous rights guarantees, along with other processes that continue to sustain Indigenous suffering in Canada’s collective name. The paper reviews the objectives of federal proposals articulated in the draft framework, exploring their underlying intentions and implications relative to Indigenous peoples’ longstanding political aspirations. The merits of these proposals are examined in relation to the current state of constitutional and international law. It notes the consistency of the federal government’s drive to subordinate Indigenous peoples through various frameworks for so-called self-government by considering the relationship between past and present initiatives and the continuity of settler colonialism in Canada. Finally, it assesses whether the framework in fact offers substantive implementation of Indigenous rights, or whether it may further abrogate them in the name of recognition.
Back to the Future!: Re-Examining the Métis Nation Accord in an Era of Rights and Recognition: Jennifer Adese (University of Toronto), Daniel Voth (University of Calgary) Abstract: This paper places current Métis political demands for government recognition of rights and land into historical perspective. As part of the package of constitutional changes proposed in the Charlottetown Accord, the Métis nation negotiated a Métis Accord that would provide a definition of the Métis nation, justiciable rights to a land base, and financial transfers to (what would become) official Métis governments. With the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (RCAP) taking the position that the nature of Métis identity is ambiguous, and the recent rise of self-identified Métis individuals and organizations well outside the Métis homeland, the Métis Nation Accord provides a counternarrative to the argument that Métis people and their political claims are ambiguous and amorphous. As such, this paper provides a new, and much needed, re-examination of the solidity of Métis orientations to community, land, and territory. By examining this phenomenon through a justiciable rights based framework, the authors are able to illuminate both the strengths and drawbacks of state driven protections to Métis rights to identity control and lands and territory.
White Paper 2.0: Treaty Feminism and the Indigenous Rights, Recognition and Implementation Framework: Emily Riddle (University of British Columbia) Abstract: This paper traces a lineage of Treaty organizing in Alberta from the resistance to the 1969 Statement of the Government of Canada on Indian Policy (White Paper) to the current Liberal Government’s proposed Indigenous Rights, Recognition and Implementation Framework legislation (Rights Framework), drawing comparisons between both sets of legislation and the reaction from chiefs in Alberta. In 1969, Harold Cardinal, leader of the Alberta Indian Association led a campaign of chiefs rejecting the White Paper on the basis that the proposed legislation would assimilate First Nations into the Canadian nation-state, later publishing a counter proposal called Citizens Plus. Citizens Plus continues to provide insights into the federal government’s ongoing relationship with First Nations who are signatories to numbered treaties. In continued resistance to the domestication of Treaty in Alberta, this year, chiefs of the Yellowhead Tribal Council, which represents four First Nations rejected the Rights Framework stating that their Treaty “supersedes any legislation or policy created by the Government of Canada”. In particular, this paper will examine the often overlooked contributions of First Nations women in political organizing in Alberta, from the ‘Indian Rights for Indian Women’ movement to today, arguing that the dispossession and exclusion of First Nations women from political organizing contributes to the ongoing erosion of Treaty as an international agreement and political ethos.