AFN wants first ministers meeting on aboriginal rights in the Constitution

Canada must change the Constitution to ensure Indigenous leaders can be in the room when the prime minister sits down to do serious business with the provinces and territories.

The Canadian Press

OTTAWA _ Canada must change the Constitution to ensure Indigenous leaders can be in the room when the prime minister sits down to do serious business with the provinces and territories, the head of the Assembly of First Nations said Friday.

“Until that Constitution is fixed, we will continue to be excluded,” said National Chief Perry Bellegarde.

Indigenous leaders are frustrated at being invited to Friday’s meeting with the premiers, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden, but excluded from the afternoon session on climate change.

They argue that Aboriginal Peoples and their traditional way of life suffer some of the worst effects of climate change, despite having next to nothing to do with the cause, and they should be fully involved in decisions on a solution.

The challenge right now is that the Constitution does not recognize First Nations, Metis and Inuit leaders as representatives from an order of government, said Bellegarde, who acknowledged Aboriginal priorities were discussed during the morning meeting.

Bellegarde pointed out that Section 35 of the Constitution has recognized and affirmed the rights of Aboriginal Peoples since 1982, but they have had to go through the courts to get those rights clarified and enforced.

“It’s still a grey area whether it’s a full box of rights or an empty box of rights,” Bellegarde said.

Bellegarde is calling for a first ministers conference devoted entirely to Section 35, so they can “give true meaningful effect to the right to self-determination” and get serious about building a nation-to-nation relationship.

“And until that’s done, the feds and the provinces can have their meeting,” he said.

Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard said his province would support the desire of Aboriginal Peoples to be recognized more formally by the constitution, but any talks on the matter would have to also mean allowing reopening negotiations on the recognition of Quebec.

At the closing news conference Friday evening, Trudeau made a point to thank Indigenous leaders for the part they did play in the gathering and discussions on climate change.

“Every person in the room, whether they represented First Nations, the Inuit, the Metis nation, provinces, territories, or Canada as a whole had a chance be heard and have their viewpoints considered as we made important decisions together,” said Trudeau.

Bellegarde said he was pleased to be included at the morning session.

“No matter what the table is, we need to meaningfully involved,” Bellegarde said.

Clement Chartier, president of the Metis National Council, said it was also important to point out that the federal government recognized what they were bringing to the meeting.

“We’re not being dealt with as mere advocacy bodies or organizations, but as representatives of Indigenous peoples and nations,” he said.

“We are there. We’re not all the way there, but we have a good step forward to get really meaningful engagement,” he said.

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1 thought on “AFN wants first ministers meeting on aboriginal rights in the Constitution

  1. What would be more important is to have a First Nations Veto on Constitutional amendments that affect First Nations rights. Another solution is exemptions to amendments affecting our rights to First Nations who opt out of he amendments. That could be for rights within the territories of the Nations concerned at least.

    As well, we should be pushing for recognition as true Nations, to recognize us as Sovereign people.

    The best template we should be working towards is Niue. It has an Association agreement like, Europe, open border. True recognition of sovereignty. Niue only has 1600 citizens. Either State can drop out of the agreement at any time. Canada repatriated it’s Constitution from England in 1982, and we should repatriate our Constitutionsite from Canada in the near term. Niue is a State in Free Association with New Zealand. All law making powers are the responsibility of the people of Niue, including foreign affairs. Only defence is the responsibility of New Zealand. The Queen remains head of State. Niue gets market access, use of New Zealand Dollar, Dual citizenship, and around $10 million NZ Dollars in funding a year. What New Zealand gets is certainty that a Compact of Free Association is not done with Niue and a rival State, so that they don’t have to worry about having a Russian military base in their back yard for example, and of course, the benefit of open border.

    This could possibly be done at least by Nations without Treaty’s in the near term. Native Hawaiians are setting the precedent for all Unceded Indigenous people in the international court to separate from America legally as it is also illegally occupied. So if Canada doesn’t want to respect our sovereignty, we have other options. Here’s a little info about Niue: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Niue

    Some First Nactions are against the idea of being a State. Both the words Tribe and State are English words. How they translate is the problem. Bolivia has 10 million people, 6 million are full blood native, another 2 million are mixed, and the remaining are white. It has a Native president, Evo Morales. It is called a Plurinational State. So you don’t have to have one single national anthem etc…

    We can be a Sovereign Union Iike the Australian Aborigines aspire to become. A State is simply the modern day accepted definition of a Sovereign entity that has absolute ownership over its land. Which is called Allodial Title. That’s why the Vatican is a separate country from Italy. We own he Allodial Title of this land (otherwise known as underlying title, not aboriginal title which is an invention of the crown and it’s courts). Niue holds Allodial Title and doesn’t fit the Eurocentric anthropologists definition of a State, requiring a standing army and high population etc… (Iceland doesn’t have a standing army either by the way).

    Having a Veto on Constitutional amendments can also give us more leverage to negotiate with Canada for true recognition of our Sovereignty the next time they want to amend their constitution again too. That’s why the premier of Quebec essentially just said he will not allow further recognition of native rights in the Constitution without allowing Quebec to also gain more rights in the same time (which is what Elijah Harper did to Quebec when they wanted more autonomy back then too).

    If we are separate States from the Canadian State, we won’t have to worry about Canadians complaining about special rights for First Nations anymore because everything will be our own country and there won’t be anymore need for rights in Canada, and we could still enjoy the life we live today, because with an Association agreement we would have dual citizenship and open border like Europe…

    For further clarification, Elijah Harper was only able to Veto the required Premier of Manitoba’s signature because of a law passed in Manitoba that requires all provincial MLA’s to sign onto the constitutional amendment to allow the premier the ability to sign onto it. However the Premier at the time admitted that the Manitoba legislature has the power to get rid of that law, but it would be undemocratic so he decided not to. But do not make the mistake of leaving our Sovereignty and Rights in the hands of Canadians. One day the immigration rates and non-native population growth could grow to be so big in Manitoba that there may not be a single native MLA elected in Manitoba at some point in the future. Then this law could be removed, and Canadians could even get rid of native rights or water them down in the Constitution. Canadians elected a majority Harper government, and could elect a Harper 2.0 or Trump like government in the future, who knows what Canada will be like in 7 generations. We need to ensure our sovereignty remains in the hands of our own people for all generations to come, because that’s who it belongs to. Feel free to ask me any questions via facebook, here’s a link to my profile: https://www.facebook.com/riley.caputo

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