In an attempt to achieve common goals and address grievances, Indigenous peoples have engaged in diverse forms of activism, including political organizing, peaceful protests, marches, and occupations. Concerns have included land rights, treaty commitments, health care, the environment, education, government funding, and many others. Much of their activism resides in their fight to self-govern and reclaim their rights to traditional lands.
The Duty to Consult In Canada, the federal government has a legal and moral obligation to consult with Indigenous peoples when it contemplates actions or decisions that may affect treaty or established rights. The protection of Aboriginal and treaty rights is enshrined under section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982.
However, despite their protection under the Constitution, many Indigenous groups continue to challenge, through the courts their rights to the land, resources and cultural activities. Indigenous peoples from coast to coast to coast have been deeply committed to both land claims and the conservation of natural resources. The process of (re)claiming self-government is complex, and the goals of different groups have varied widely.
To further your understanding of Canadian Indigenous activism and their right to self-government, working in pairs, you will conduct a case study of a Modern Treaty or Comprehensive Land Claim agreement.
Once you've researched a Modern Treaty or Land Claim you will complete the chart below:
While you are researching and reading about Indigenous activism think about the following questions:
- Do you think the agreement is fair?
- Was it signed under fair circumstances? Why or why not?
- To what degree does it protect Indigenous rights to land, resources and self-government?
- To what degree has the duty to consult been fulfilled in this case?
1) To begin visit the The Canadian Encyclopedia, and Comprehensive Land Claims: Modern Treaties website to begin your research.
a.) Start by reading over the two paragraphs under: Historical Basis of the Claims Process, 1763–1969
b.) When you are finished scroll down to the heading: Modern Treaties Built upon Historic Treaties and read the section under the heading of the article.
As you are reading, think about:
• When and where was the treaty signed?
• What is the historical context of the treaty? What was happening at the time? What were the motivating factors for the various groups involved? What were the goals of the government? What were the goals of Indigenous signatories? You may have to do further research.
• What were the key terms of the treaty?
• What were the direct consequences for the different parties involved in the treaty signing?
Now that you have an overview of different Modern Day Treaties and Land Claims now you continue your research, watch the video below to gain a deeper insight into the needs for Indigenous land claims.
2) Watch the video about Canadian Land Claims:
As you watch think about the questions below: Resolving Specific Land Claims for Everyone's Benefit
- Where do land claims come from and how are they resolved?
- How do land claims affect third parties and who benefits when they are settled
Now you are ready to choose a Land Agreement and Nation to further research:
3) Look through the different Treaties and Agreements. The groups listed below are not all-inclusive of Indigenous communities in Canada or their search for rights. Here are but a few samples. Choose one to summarize using the chart.
- Watch the video: It’s been 10 years since the signing of the historic Tlicho agreement
- Review the FAQ article: https://www.tlicho.ca/cec-assembly/our-story/faq
GWICH'IN TRIBAL COUNCIL LAND CLAIM
- Watch the video: Gwich’in Goonanh’kak Googwandak: The Places and Stories of the Gwich’in
- Review the FAQ Article: https://www.gwichintribal.ca/land-claim.html
GRAND COUNCIL OF CREES
- Watch the video: Cree versus Cree in land claim battle: https://www.aptnnews.ca/national-news/cree-versus-cree-in-land-claim-battle/
- Read a review of Main Agreements of Cree Nation Government:https://www.cngov.ca/governance-structure/legislation/agreements/
TSAWWASSEN FIRST NATION
- Look at the website for an overview of the Nation: http://tsawwassenfirstnation.com/governance-overview/treaty-and-constitution/
Now that you've had an overview of different Modern Treaties and Land Claims refer back to the 5w's Reading Comprehension Chart: Modern Treaties and Land Claims and summarize a Treaty or Land claim which interested you.
We will share our findings with the class in a group discussion.
After reviewing different Modern Treaties and Land Agreements think about:
- Why do you think this topic is important for Indigenous communities in Canada?
- How does it further their claims for self-governance?
Hall, J. Treaties with Indigenous Peoples in Canada, The Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved: July 19th, 2021 https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/aboriginal-treaties
Government of Canada, Implementations of Modern Treaties and Self- Government for Indigenous Nations. Retrieved: July 19th, 2021 https://www.rcaanc-cirnac.gc.ca/eng/1573225148041/1573225175098