Op-Ed: Recognition of Rights or Termination of Rights Framework?   - APTN NewsAPTN News

Op-Ed: Recognition of Rights or Termination of Rights Framework?  

Joyce Green and Gina Starblanket 
Special to APTN News
The Trudeau government is committed to table legislation on a Recognition of Rights Framework for Indigenous rights this fall.  While not yet finalized, the initial drafts are not encouraging.

Beware of federal politicians bearing beads and trinkets.  This framework is not emancipatory and despite effusive press releases from the Prime Minister, has nothing to do with reconciliation.

The feds are proposing a framework that functions like a cage, containing Indigenous nations and governments within a legal apparatus that assumes all sovereignty and jurisdiction belong to the federal and provincial governments.

The cage provides Indigenous nations with little more than space to administer federally approved governance within legislated boundaries. No land commitments accompany the framework, and it’s principals fall far below the floor set by Canadian constitutional law, Indigenous laws, and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

The third order of government model was suggested by the Penner Report in 1983 and by the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples.

Why, then, this anemic delegated model proposal?

The legislation is intended to be available to Indians, Inuit and Metis governments, and according to the Justice Minister in her speech to the Business Council of British Columbia in April 2018, is intended to provide “certainty”.

“Certainty” means clarity and predictability for non-Indigenous corporate investment interests. And while the government’s language suggests self-determination is a desirable objective to be secured through Recognition of Rights, there is nothing proposed that recognizes or facilitates self-determination, a fundamental right recognized at international law.

The legislated “self” governance approach has been floated through a variety of initiatives by successive Liberal and Conservative governments since 1982.

All proposed a delegated subordinate municipal-style framework to replace the Indian Act. All have been largely rejected by First Nations (and have not previously been offered to Inuit and Metis). Yet the “new relationship” reads like an updated version of the Indian Act; it amounts to self-administration and leaves no doubt that the federal and provincial governments do not plan on sharing jurisdictional power or tax and resource wealth.

The feds are holding consultations, but are they listening?  The “What We Heard” file is largely cherry-picked and focused on specific issues – funding, housing, health, jobs, education, and so on. These are not trivial matters, but all relate to larger systemic and structural issues that are never addressed.

One overarching theme missing, despite being raised as a primary concern by critics and supporters of the framework alike, is the all-important but constantly evaded topic of land.

Ah, the land.

It is the heart of Indigenous laws, governance, culture and relationships, to which we hold both rights and responsibilities. It is the foundation of the colonial impulse and the source of wealth of Project Canada.  It’s the key to our pasts and our futures. And land is precisely what the feds and provinces want, but never want to talk about.

That discussion would include jurisdiction, relationships between provincial, federal and Indigenous governments, treaties, tax room, and revenue sharing. Continuous evasion of this subject has created the current impasse, with questions of title and jurisdiction at the centre of every major conflict and contradiction in Indigenous-Canadian relations past, present, and evidently, future.

To be clear: the Supreme Court of Canada decided in 2014 in Tsilhqot’in that there are cases where Aboriginal title has never been extinguished, and thus jurisdiction and title to the land remain with the relevant Indigenous nation.

The UNDRIP, the gold standard for Indigenous rights at international law, was adopted unenthusiastically and late by Canada. It unequivocally states that Indigenous peoples retain rights to unceded land and resources. Further, it requires states to provide redress for actions which have had the aim or effect of dispossessing Indigenous peoples of lands, territories and resources.

The UNDRIP recognizes the Indigenous right of “free, prior and informed consent” (FPIC) over Indigenous lands – which, like any other form of consent, includes the right to say no.

Yet, in her April speech, the Justice Minister argued: “The proposed rights recognition framework should not prescribe or define a new way of consulting and accommodating, or of obtaining consent, but rather should focus on establishing legislative space and standards …”.  In this way, the government expects to find the processes to ensure “certainty”.  And that arguably is what the Recognition of Rights Framework is really all about.

Indigenous peoples are not going to let our inherent rights and jurisdiction be legislated into oblivion.

The Canadian state’s own laws, commissions of inquiry, and the international laws it has endorsed impose state obligations to redress land theft.

Efforts to address Indigenous-state relations without adhering to the limits that Indigenous rights place upon federal and provincial actions, and without engaging in the restructuring required for a return of land and jurisdiction, are doomed to fail, no matter how many people are “consulted” in the process.

Joyce Green is a professor of Political and International Studies at the University of Regina (on leave)

Gina Starblanket is an assistant professor of Political Science at the University of Calgary.

news@aptn.ca

@aptnnews

 

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

6 Responses to “Op-Ed: Recognition of Rights or Termination of Rights Framework?  ”

  1. Kellywendy524@gmail.com'
    Wendy k August 7, 2018 at 4:19 am #

    At this point I would not trust most of those of our own c& c,they are paid way too much to even give a damn!

  2. k************@gmail.com'
    Wendy k February 20, 2019 at 12:48 am #

    At this point I would not trust most of those of our own c& c,they are paid way too much to even give a damn!

  3. seyford@dccnet.com'
    Sharon Eyford August 2, 2018 at 10:36 pm #

    I take my hat of to you all, who have wrote this very important situation. I am glad that someone without an axe to grind, that are trying to show just how important our indigenous peoples of Canada, to the rest of our Nation. All most people (including governments on all levels), just what, is that the First Nations, the Metis, and Inuit, would just roll over and play dead and lose all their identification of being indigenous!!!!! I hear a lot of ” What good are THEY”? THEY just live off welfare that WE provide for them, THEY don’t WANT to work, THEY just want to live their lives in poverty, drugs, booze, welfare and do nothing to show THEY belong in OUR CANADA !!!
    Just who the hell, started Canada as you know it today ??? Who lived on this land, and helped the WHITE MAN come in and live beside us??? All we ever hear is—this is OUR LAND– not theirs??? Even our Gov’ts can’t decide what to do with this insensitive,down right belligerent, hostile company we live in– who the hell gave all these foreigners (?) to say the indigenous peoples have to learn to live WHITE and never give them any help at all ??? Where is all this so called money (?) GIVEN to the FN ??? Why does ALL this money ever get down to the grass roots people to be able to live better, better housing, better schools, better Medical Help??? Where are all the JOBS that go to white people and not the indigenous people of Canada? Would we put up with the squalor. the filth, the homes that are rotting out from under their feet??? Where is the humanity of the rest of Canada???

    I hope all these people like Gina, and Jody and Joyce get after Justin and his flunkies to change one and for all, the degradation of the indigenous peoples and give them the hands up help that MOST all other Canadians receive and now expect !!! I am Metis and one darn lucky Metis and I will always be Metis, whatever happens—BUT this shit has to stop. ??? I thought all these meetings and stuff were to help our indigenous people to heal and get on with their lives??? Have any white people ever been put through this degradation of their family lives and upheaval, all this has put there people thru !!!???? They (GOVNMENT) opened this can of worms, now they should be giving out help to those they talked to and opened all the wounds that have been covered up over the last centuries. SHAME !!! SHAME!!! How would the people of Canada feel, if their children were ripped out your arms and made to go and live in a hell hole??

    A very proud Metis Elder.

  4. ednaagla@gmail.com'
    Edna Marie Agla August 2, 2018 at 9:14 pm #

    I believe we have protection under D.i.a. but when it comes to protection under our chief and council and participation with our right to participate in pior, informed consent. And consultation is building a relationship in order to have our say without being bought with impacts benefits agreements from industry to Bands . The grass roots people that occupy the traditional.lands are to be notified included participants and prior concerted to any projects in BC as we have never surrendered or ceded our lands. And we have not ratified pending agreements .

  5. s******@dccnet.com'
    Sharon Eyford February 20, 2019 at 12:48 am #

    I take my hat of to you all, who have wrote this very important situation. I am glad that someone without an axe to grind, that are trying to show just how important our indigenous peoples of Canada, to the rest of our Nation. All most people (including governments on all levels), just what, is that the First Nations, the Metis, and Inuit, would just roll over and play dead and lose all their identification of being indigenous!!!!! I hear a lot of ” What good are THEY”? THEY just live off welfare that WE provide for them, THEY don’t WANT to work, THEY just want to live their lives in poverty, drugs, booze, welfare and do nothing to show THEY belong in OUR CANADA !!!
    Just who the hell, started Canada as you know it today ??? Who lived on this land, and helped the WHITE MAN come in and live beside us??? All we ever hear is—this is OUR LAND– not theirs??? Even our Gov’ts can’t decide what to do with this insensitive,down right belligerent, hostile company we live in– who the hell gave all these foreigners (?) to say the indigenous peoples have to learn to live WHITE and never give them any help at all ??? Where is all this so called money (?) GIVEN to the FN ??? Why does ALL this money ever get down to the grass roots people to be able to live better, better housing, better schools, better Medical Help??? Where are all the JOBS that go to white people and not the indigenous people of Canada? Would we put up with the squalor. the filth, the homes that are rotting out from under their feet??? Where is the humanity of the rest of Canada???

    I hope all these people like Gina, and Jody and Joyce get after Justin and his flunkies to change one and for all, the degradation of the indigenous peoples and give them the hands up help that MOST all other Canadians receive and now expect !!! I am Metis and one darn lucky Metis and I will always be Metis, whatever happens—BUT this shit has to stop. ??? I thought all these meetings and stuff were to help our indigenous people to heal and get on with their lives??? Have any white people ever been put through this degradation of their family lives and upheaval, all this has put there people thru !!!???? They (GOVNMENT) opened this can of worms, now they should be giving out help to those they talked to and opened all the wounds that have been covered up over the last centuries. SHAME !!! SHAME!!! How would the people of Canada feel, if their children were ripped out your arms and made to go and live in a hell hole??

    A very proud Metis Elder.

  6. e*******@gmail.com'
    Edna Marie Agla February 20, 2019 at 12:48 am #

    I believe we have protection under D.i.a. but when it comes to protection under our chief and council and participation with our right to participate in pior, informed consent. And consultation is building a relationship in order to have our say without being bought with impacts benefits agreements from industry to Bands . The grass roots people that occupy the traditional.lands are to be notified included participants and prior concerted to any projects in BC as we have never surrendered or ceded our lands. And we have not ratified pending agreements .