Indigenous People In Canada

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Indigenous people were self-governing long before Europeans arrived in Canada but in 1876, the Indian Act came into effect, dismantling traditional governance systems and Indigenous peoples ' lives (Bc Treaty Commission). Today, the Federal government recognizes that Indigenous people have an inherent, constitutionally protected right to self-government, a right to manage their own affairs (Bc Treaty Commission). Self-government agreements are one means of building sound governance and institutional capacity that allow Aboriginal communities to contribute to, and participate in, the decisions that affect their lives and carry out effective relationships with other governments (Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada). Thus, this essay explains…show more content…
Over the past century, assimilation has been the predominant solution to the challenges posed by the existence of Indigenous people. Historically, Canadian sovereignty depended on maintaining the relationship between Canada’s Indigenous people and the Crown through treaties of peace and friendship (Macklem 122). It was not until 1973 when the Calder case formally recognized pre-existing Aboriginal titles to land that the Canadian government committed to settling all pending land claims (Légaré 344). The legitimacy of self-determination was further entrenched when the Constitution Act in 1982 recognized all existing treaty rights as well as the inherent Indigenous right of self-government (Macklem 2001, 101). Indigenous peoples have always wanted control over their own affairs which lead to the constant pressure on the Federal Government to grant them wider powers in the government which they had before the coming of the Europeans. Currently Indigenous self-government rests at the local level; matters regarding the country as a whole are overseen by the federal Parliament and provincial legislatures (Belanger 51). At the Federal level, one of the unique forms of self-government is that of Nunavut.…show more content…
The North was rich in gold and oil and the rest of the world also saw the economic potential in the North (Sinclair). The United States of America began traveling through the North lobbying the Northern waters to be international (Sinclair). Canada saw the United States as a threat and acted swiftly to grant the Northerners their request for self-government. The signing of the Nunavut agreement took place on May 25, 1993, and the project was finalized with the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement Act (Bill C-133) and an Act to Divide the North West Territory and Create the Territory of Nunavut (Bill C-132) which were also passed in 1993 (Lenzerini 298). Nunavut was created out of the Northwest Territories on 1 April 1999; it is the largest land claim settlement in the history of Canada (Hyde). The agreement involved the surrender of Aboriginal title by the Inuit who comprise 85% of the total Nunavut population but also gave them power over one of the largest lands in North America (Hyde). With the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement, the Inuit gain title to 136,000 square miles of land plus $1.17 billion dollars in compensation, a share of mineral, oil, and gas development, the right to participate in decisions regarding the land and water resources, and rights to harvest wildlife on their lands (Hyde). This agreement not only settled the

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