When the framers of Confederation met to negotiate the shape of the new Dominion, no Aboriginal people were at the conference tables and Aboriginal issues were scarcely on the minds of the participants. In the end, the British North America Act of 1867 contained only a single line about Native peoples...
The First World War brought a new set of challenges to Aboriginal people in Canada as a series of policy decisions indicated that, once again, the interests of First Nations were clearly secondary to the perceived national interest. Although some...
Since the early twentieth century, many Aboriginal communities in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island had been struggling with desperate poverty. A smallpox epidemic in the 1890s and a major migration to the United States had redu...
At the end of the twentieth century, Canadians find themselves caught in a dilemma over Aboriginal affairs. We have inherited a legal structure and bureaucracy that is rooted in the policies of the nineteenth century, with their racist assumptions about "primitive" people that most Canadians no longer find palatable. In some regions, we have a legacy of treaties that are interpreted by Natives to mean one thing and by non-Natives to mean another. And we have the thorny central issue of Aboriginal rights. Do Native people have special rights because they were here before the European colonizers? Is our society to be based on the philosophy of equal rights for individuals, or on the philosophy of different rights for different groups or collectivities? How can we best negotiate the answers to these questions?
Clearly, the issue of future government policy for Aboriginal affairs is one that strikes at some fundamental questions of the nature of Canadian society.
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