The federal government initiative to patriate the Canadian constitution in a unilateral action was a source of dismay to many in Canada. Native peoples feared that unilateral repatriation would damage the existing relationship between Native peoples and the Crown. Native organizations lobbied the federal government, and, when this met with no response, a Native delegation went to England to express opposition to an agreement. The treaty nations wanted Great Britain and Canada to recognize these arrangements officially before making changes that might affect them. A decision by the English Court of Appeal confirmed Canada's obligation to fulfill treaties in the Crown's name, but unilateral patriation went ahead. Further battles in Canada erupted when a statement on Aboriginal rights was removed from a draft version. A major lobbying effort galvanized Natives across the country to demand the restoration of this statement. The results of these efforts were sections 25 and 35 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The first confirmed that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms would not affect those rights and freedoms accorded to Native peoples in Canada. Section 35 confirmed "existing" Aboriginal and treaty rights, although they were not specified. Section 35 also broadened the definition of "Aboriginal peoples," explicitly including Inuit and Métis , as well as Indians (Status and non-Status).

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