Minutes of Proceedings and Evidence of the Special Committee on Indian Self-Government, 32nd Parl, 1st Sess, No 33 (14 June 1983)
By: Canada (Parliament)
Citation: Canada, Parliament, Minutes of Proceedings and Evidence of the Special Committee on Indian Self-Government, 32nd Parl, 1st Sess, No 33 (14 June 1983).
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HOUSE OF COMMONS
Issue No. 33
Tuesday, June 14, 1983
Chairman: Mr. Keith Penner
Minutes of Proceedings and Evidence
of the Special Committee on
The status, development and responsibilities of Band
governments on Indian reserves, as well as the financial
relationships between the Government of Canada and
(See back cover)
First Session of the
Thirty-second Parliament, 1980-81-82-83
SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON
Chairman: Mr. Keith Penner
Vice-Chairman: Mr. Stan Schellenberger
Clerk of the Special Committee
MINUTES OF PROCEEDINGS
TUESDAY, JUNE 14, 1983
The Special Committee on Indian Self-Government met at 3:52 o’clock pm., this day, the Chairman, Mr. Penner, presiding.
Members of the Committee present: Messrs. Chénier, Manly, Oberle, Penner and Tousignant.
Ex-officio member present: From the Assembly of First Nations: Ms. Roberta Jamieson.
Liaison member present: From the Native Women’s Association of Canada: Ms. Sandra Isaac.
In attendance: From the Research Branch of the Library of Parliament: Mrs. Barbara Reynolds, Research Officer.
Witnesses: From the Native Women’s Association of Canada: Ms. Jane Gottfriedson, President and Mrs. Gail Stacey Moore, Chairperson, Indian Act and Constitution Committee, Board of Directors.
The Committee resumed consideration of its Order of Reference dated Wednesday, December 22, 1982. (See Minutes of Proceedings, Wednesday. December 22. 1982, Issue No. 1.)
Mrs. Gottfriedson made a statement and, with Ms. Moore, answered questions.
It was agreed,—That the document tabled by today’s witnesses on the Indian Act be filed as an exhibit with the Clerk of the Committee. (Exhibit “RR”)
At 5:44 o’clock pm., the Committee adjourned to the call of the Chair.
Clerk of the Committee
(Recorded by Electronic Apparatus)
Tuesday, June 14, 1983
The Chairman: The Special Committee on Indian Self- Government is in session.
Today, we have appearing the Native Women’s Association of Canada. Jane Gottfriedson, president, is with us. Mrs. Gottfriedson has, on behalf of the association, circulated a submission to the members. Mrs. Gottfriedson, I would call upon you now. Would you indicate the manner in which you would like to proceed? Do you want to read the submission into the record, or just comment on it and have it appended? Perhaps also you could introduce your associates as well.
Ms J. Gottfriedson (President, Native Women’s Association of Canada): We are prepared to read our submission and then take questions.
The Chairman: Read the submission, fine.
Ms Gottfriedson: Thank you, Mr. Chairman and committee members. for giving us this opportunity to elaborate further on our positions and thoughts about these important matters which face all native peoples.
In the time since our last presentation, we have closely followed the many presentations that have been made to this committee. We have also used the time to reflect on and analyse the dormant lines of questioning that this committee has concerned itself with. Our presentation today is focused in two parts. First, a wide-based analysis of the current situation: and secondly, some recommendations we feel will address the future of this situation.
Let us begin by speaking to some of the assumptions that are at play in this process and their ramifications on the future of native nations and peoples. Our analysis may cause some mental anguish for non-native Canadians, but to not speak to them would be ignoring the physical and mental pain these assumptions create in native lives.
We must begin by taking an honest appraisal of the history of this area of North America. Recently, the Haudenosaunec of the Iroquois Confederacy Land Rights Committee made a presentation to this committee and spoke strongly about the racist assumptions underlying Canada’s existence. The Native Women’s Association concurs with their position, but we also must expand on that position to include the sexist assumptions that also underlie the historical development of Canada.
Both of these assumptions deeply impact the current relations between native nations and Canada, Both have been employed to bring about the destabilization and near-destruction of native nations and societies.
There are those who would say that racism is not as strong in Canada as in the U.S. and there have not been the wars as in the US. Our elders vividly remember the smallpox blankets of their youth, the rotten meat handed out by Indian agents, and many other acts that bordered on genocide. There are non- natives who undoubtedly say to themselves that was yesterday. past history, and has nothing to do with today, If anyone here harbours such thoughts, we wish to say to you that you are wrong; it has everything to do with today and the future.
It is part of the racist assumption to try to divorce oneself from such a history and pretend it has no impact on the reality of today. But that assumption continues, especially in light of a recent government survey on racism that indicates that one in three surveyed wished for a white Canada. The Indian Act underwrites both the racist and the sexist assumptions made about the future of native nations and peoples. Let us wipe away any confusion and speak clearly about the Indian Act in its true role, as a racist-sexist tool for the colonization of native peoples and lands. It serves no other purpose than to provide white Canada with a management process over our lives.
With these assumptions and this legislation in place, what kind of future is being offered to native nations and peoples? Are we here to discuss modifications to a process that dehumanizes any people who are caught up in it? We sincerely hope not; and as we have continuously stated, the Native Women’s Association of Canada stands for the development of relations that allow all people to develop to their fullest potential,
As we collectively work at removing the obstacles to a more humane future, we must proceed at a pace that allows for thoughtful analysis of what each step means. and its impact well into the future. This is a process that cannot be rapidly pushed through, It must be done carefully, with an unending commitment to realize justice as it is defined by those who are affected.
The Native Women’s Association of Canada supports those native nations that actively seek their rightful place in the world community. We also support those nations that see themselves as in transition or that wish to maintain some semblance of the current reality. It is their right to choose a path they are comfortable with and feel most appropriate to their continued existence. But there are some implications to
the term “nationhood” that all who aspire to such a goal must take into consideration. The world community has established international standards of what is expected of all governments in their dealings with their citizens. Simply to talk about native nationhood does not exempt the speaker from addressing these standards and responsibilities.
The current dilemma we find ourselves in over membership is not only the native people’s problem to solve, nor singularly a Canadian issue. It is a direct result of the colonial and racist and sexist assumptions of the past. The resolution to this problem has several possible steps.
First, we again call for formal talks between the Assembly of First Nations and ourselves to establish common grounds and principles relative to this issue, with a commitment to negotiate areas where we do not have common ground. Secondly, Canada must be prepared to accept without question the resolution worked out by the native leadership. Thirdly, there needs to be the establishment of an appeals process that does not exclude international options.
This overall scenario would be challenging to implement, but it would be one we feel is necessary if the commitment to native sovereignty and self-determination is to be maintained.
For the success of such a process there have to be working agreements on definitions of words being used in the process. To start with, let us look at the word “nation”.
A nation is defined by international standards as having the following: (a) the ability to govern itself (b) a permanent population (c) a defined territory (d) the ability to enter into international relations. All of these exist in some form or another when we talk about native nations.
But nations are also collections of communities. Each community is not a nation unto itself. Some native politicians are advancing an argument that each and every hand is a nation. Closer analysis shows that most bands are really local communities of a nation. For example, there are seven Iroquois communities. Some communities are part of a member nation of the Iroquois Confederacy, and all are members of the Haudenosaunee. In other areas, a nation’s territory has been downgraded to a “band”. Such is the case of the Peigan, or Blood, who are member nations of the Blackfoot Confederacy.
Obviously, some refinement in thinking needs to occur to sort all this out and to put into place the proper institutions and mechanisms of nationhood. In the meanwhile, discussions can occur between the representative organizations to lead to the principles and common ground we spoke of earlier.
Secondly, we need to be clear that we are talking about citizenship, as opposed to membership. Every effort has been made to destroy native concepts of citizenship. Our concepts of citizenship begin with the family. While certain members may be legally defined as non-status or Metis. at the family level they are still uncle, cousin. aunt, and so on. While discrimination exists as to who receives certain services, or who can live on certain lands, these discriminations do not exist in the bond of the family; and the family is the foundation of nationhood.
Citizenship in any nation comes with responsibilities to the nation one is born to. The discussion of these responsibilities is a native discussion and not subject to the interference of any other entity.
What is open for multilateral discussion is oppression; in particular, the oppression of enfranchisement or any other form of colonial legislation that lends itself to wholesale oppression. For us, the only item on the agenda of that discussion is when will Canada enact processes to reverse the oppression it has instituted.
The native discussion will define citizenship. The multilateral discussion will focus on ending oppression.
In the past when we have called for such discussions we have been rebuffed. We have now grown quite wary of the Canadian government’s real intentions on these issues. But we are willing to assume we may be embarking on a new round that will lead to hard work for a better future. A critical piece of that better future will include some form of appeal process.
We have some thoughts about such an appeals process we would like to share at this time. As we have stated before, we are committed to the principle of native national sovereignty. In that context, an appeals process would need the voluntary participation of those nations which have achieved sovereignty.
But before achieving sovereignty there is a transition period from the colonial condition to freedom. During this transition the native governments, and Canada, have to be responsive to the appeals process.
Such a process could begin in North America with a native human rights commission, with the door open to subsequent appeals to the Organization of American States and the United Nations, or recognized international human rights organizations. No matter what the exact form of the process may be. it must leave the door open to international assistance in resolving questions that cannot be trusted to the Canadian legal system.
The issues and conditions we speak of are not exclusively legal issues, they are very political issues. The commitment of the Native Women’s Association of Canada is to work for the establishment of conditions that allow our future generations the continued freedom to develop in any manner they wish. It is not within the power of this committee, or our organization or any other organization, to establish conditions today that deny the future of our nations in any form.
In closing, I would like to quickly reiterate our basic positions:
1. That Indians have the right to determine, adopt, and operate under a form of government of their own choice.
2. That Indian national governments be recognized as having a government-to-government working relationship.
3. That in the field of land management, Indian governments have the power of sovereign states or nations.
4. That Indian governments have the power to regulate domestic relations in all areas, subject to a referendum of local communities of the nation, or whatever political process the nation has adopted.
5. That Indian governments have the power to levy taxes to regulate property within Indian national territories, to control the conduct of members, and to administer justice.
6. That laws adopted by Indian governments will be the supreme law in Indian spheres of influence, overriding all other federal and provincial laws in the same field.
7. That Indian governments determine their own membership, but only after all of those so titled have been listed or relisted on their respective band lists.
8. That the membership criteria will become the law of the nation and its communities.
9. That the Indian Act be amended to end discrimination on the basis of sex.
10. That each Indian band be assisted to assess its new needs with regard to land programs and services.
11. That the minister of DIAND be directed to expand his yearly budget, starting in the next fiscal year, to provide a funding base that will take into account the new needs of bands.
12. That the expansion of the yearly budget be undertaken in consultation with the local governments, who are prepared to meet their new needs, and the representative national organizations.
13. That in the revision to the Indian Act, some allowance be made for the expansion of existing Indian territories to accommodate their reinstated population.
14. That Indian government devise ordinances to ensure equal protection and due process to their membership and agree to participate in all appeal mechanisms to resolve disputes.
15. That all native people will have the option of utilizing recognized international appeal processes, if they so desire.
16. That discrimination against marriage that involved native people from the U.S. and Canada. or any other country, be ended.
This concludes our presentation, and we welcome any questions.
The Chairman: Thank you, Mrs. Gottfriedson, for your presentation. I think we would like to ask some questions. Frank, are you ready to go, or do you want to wait for a while?
Mr. Oberle: Yes, because I have to run very shortly.
Jane, thanks for appearing again. I know you follow the committee and that you are becoming concerned about some of the testimony we are receiving. I guess it becomes apparent now that some of us are beginning to get certain ideas fixed in our minds as to what we should be writing in the report. I might wish to ask you the same questions that I have asked others, and that is, in your idea of Indian self-government. some of which is reflected in this paper, do you think it is possible to build an Indian self-government structure that could be accommodated under the provisions of our new constitutions that pertain to rights of individuals and so on? Or do you think the Constitution has to be changed very significantly to permit a certain duality of rights and responsibilities for citizens of Canada and citizens of Indian nations?
Ms Gottfriedson: From our perspective, looking at the Charter as it is, I do not think it adequately meets our needs. I think there are a lot of restraints and restrictions and it is going to continue to allow legislation or laws to be imposed upon us without input from the grassroots level up. It is not going to meet our basic needs and concerns, and there has to be input. There has to be some mechanism whereby the people who are living and are going to be affected daily have some voice, have their input and and have their concerns met.
Mr. Oberle: Let me ask you this. Supposing we put in place a charter system that permits the establishment of very distinct Indian nations in every sense, as you have defined nationhood in your paper. Quite obviously it would be sort of a collective structure-and I hate using that because it sounds immediately so abhorrent—but a collective structure in the sense of the type you have in socialist or communist regimes where there are no individual rights as we respect them and regard them as a cornerstone of our society. And you are now a citizen of such a nation, where you have no personal property and no individual rights: you have collective rights. Because
human beings are the same you know, power corrupts whether you are an lndian or not an Indian, and absolute power corrupts absolutely—supposing you are a citizen of a structure where you have a heriditary chief who you cannot elect out or whatever and now you are discriminated against, Do you think you should have access to the courts of the rest of Canada to claim your rights, or would you be prepared to throw yourself completely on the mercy of whatever structure you have put in place in the Indian nation?
Ms Gottfriedson: No. There has to be a mechanism in place to safeguard against those things. I think we are looking at the international arena as acting as a safeguard. There would be the process of having the people in control to an extent, but if they go beyond those boundaries, or are discriminating, or not acting in the best interests of the people they represent, and if we foresee that the Canadian government cannot deal with that situation in the best interests of both parties, it should be taken totally out of that arena.
Mr. Oberle: That makes a lot of sense when it comes to appealing the structure itself or certain policies that are publicly announced or understood. But when it deals with just blatent discrimination which you can never prove. . .
Some people in our country were so naive when we passed the Constitution as to think that all we had to do was entrench in the Constitution the right to live free from discrimination on the grounds of race, religion, and colour; that would be the solution to all the problems. But there is the subtle discrimination that you can never prove. For instance, you come to me and apply for a job and I say, Jane, I am sorry, I do not have a job for you; and the next day I hire a white person. You go to the Supreme Court and lay a charge against me. and I will say I had a phone call that night from somebody placing a big order and I needed somebody and the first guy who came in. I hired; it had nothing to do with Jane being red.
These things you never prove, It requires a change of attitude. It requires the enlightenment of a society. which is a painful process. It has to do with history, with tradition. with certain values, and with the atmosphere you create as a government to bring about that kind of enlightenment.
But supposing you as an individual are subject to that kind of discrimination. do you think it would be possible to establish an international tribunal that you, Jane Gottfriedson, could go
to to have a grievance heard? It would make it very cumbersome, would it not?
Ms Gottfriedson: I think that issue you are bringing forth we have had some discussions on. It deals with attitudes. The Indian Act has imposed a lot of things on us such that we have people who really believe that is the way things should be. Part of our responsibility in our association is when we do workshops or do presentations. we talk about that and deal with that.
It is a long process. and it does hurt. There are a lot of people who are not prepared to change. There are a lot of people who are directly affected by that and who do not understand why they are affected. They do not understand what has caused the situation as it is today.
We have started the process and we are going to continue in our presentations to deal with that. We talk about the Indian Act. We talk about what it has done to our people; how it had dehumanized us; how it has destroyed families; how it has destroyed nations. We talk about the government structures. how many of our band governments are Indian Act governments, they are not really traditional governments or people governments; they are governments that are administrators for the Department of Indian Affairs or the federal government. and a lot of programs and things that are being implemented at the grass-roots level are imposed. they do not hear the cries from within and the needs—and those needs are not being met.
Mr. Oberle: I have no argument with that: your contention that the Indian Act is nothing but a statute to regulate the lives of certain people. I agree we need totally to rebuild that statute and make it meaningful. But the question still remains—maybe what you are telling us is that we should be doing nothing. You mentioned the Haudenosaunee people. Even if we said. okay, there is probably no better example of a traditional well-functioning structure of a race of people and a government structure for a race of people, even if our report said. okay. go ahead. this is your structure, as you know, in their area it would not likely be accepted by the majority of the community, who are quite a way along the path —not assimilating culturally as much as assimilating to a more modern form of government. So maybe what you are saying is not to do a thing; make it possible for the Haudenosaunee to rebuild their traditional thing, but let them do it at their own pace or not do it at all—whichever they choose… Is that what you are saying?
Ms Gottfriedson: That is what we are saying. The people need to have a chance. All the people across the country need that chance and opportunity to develop in the way they see fit—that is. the development of the local governments by the people. There has to be that chance. There has to be the opportunity given to these people to develop and to grow.
I know that in our Okanagan area on the Canadian side, there are seven bands making up the Okanagan Nation, but the border also cuts off a lot of our Okanagan people and that portion goes to Spokane, Washington. We still all identify as Okanagan people. We still practice our cultural and traditional ways. We still have our language and our dances. our winter dances: there are a lot we still do together. But there are other people who have taken the other road. So people must have a chance to work it out. to negotiate, to talk and to decide.
Mr. Oberle: So really, you agree with me when I say that may be what you want us to do? You want us to put in place a system whereby you could rebuild your tradition; where you could instill a pride in your heritage, in your children. and let them make the choice as to… well, use it as a basis from which you might accept some more modern version and some more practical versions of governing? That would help you to co-exist more effectively with the white man’s culture. Is that about right?
Ms Gottfriedson: In a sense, yes. We want to ensure that whatever mechanism or whatever decisions are put into place, they are open-ended so that people 50 years from now or 100 years from now, will still have the right, or still have the doors open to them to make changes or to make decisions that will affect and meet their needs at that time, and that they will not be boxed into something they cannot live with.
Mr. Oberle: I do not know at this point how we will do that. but that has been a message we have received a few times. Do you want to say something, madam?
Mrs. Gail Stacey Moore (Chairperson, Indian Act and Constitution Committee, Board of Directors, Native Women’s Association of Canada): Yes. thank you. As far as the concept of self-government goes, I think there is a lot of confusion amongst our people. There are people who feel that a traditional way of government is the best way to operate. But also, there are people who have operated within the band council under the Indian Act system, and still have what I call the “Indian Act mentality” of administering life on the reserves. Then there are other people who may want to see a combination of some types of government—a modern progressive government. We are operating within those reserves.
But in order for those people to come to that point of recognition of what self-government means to them and what they would like to see as to what is fair, what is just, within their reserves, they are going to need time. They are also going to need the restraints of the Indian Act lifted from their backs. because that is what they are carrying now. Under those circumstances there is no way they will be able to move.
Mr. Oberle: Thank you, Ms Gottfriedson.
The Chairman: Do you want to be put down for another round?
Mr. Oberle: Could I excuse myself for a few minutes, Mr. Chairman? I have another engagement.
The Chairman: Yes.
Mr. Oberle: Thank you. Incidentally, Ms Gottfriedson, the Okanagan Nation never has been. . . I mean they have beautiful customs and dances, but you have never been good rain-dancers, you know.
Ms Gottfriedson: We are spoiled from the other belt?
Mr. Oberle: So you have something to learn from others.
The Chairman: Ms Gottfriedson, just for clarification, I would like to go back to the questioning which Mr. Oberle started about how grievances can be addressed under a system of Indian self-government.
This weekend I had a practical experience of this. I had arranged to meet with a chief, several councillors and band managers on a wide range of issues and when I was going into the band hall I was confronted by a member of the band who had some grievances. When I suggested to him that the appropriate way to deal with these was with his chief and council, he became enraged and said, no, I was his advocate; I was his member of Parliament and he expected me to take up his case. He made that very clear. He felt that he was being discriminated against by his local government on the question of whether his home should be eligible for the renovation plan that the band had put into effect.
When I raised the matter inside the band hall, they told me also that it was none of my business. They said that he was far down the list. There were others who had greater needs and they would deal with it, and the matter was closed.
Now, I simply raise that because I foresee a difficulty and Mr. Oberle pointed to it. Under a system of Indian self- government jurisdictionally defined, what does the member of that community do if the regime under which he or she lives is oppressive in some way? Mr. Oberle wondered whether that person could invoke the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. If I recall correctly, your answer was that there should be some kind of a mechanism but you felt that it should be an international body that should deal with it.
Would you be suggesting then that my constituent who has a grievance should go to New York or to the International Court at The Hague? I just see a problem. I wonder if you could elaborate a bit on what you have in mind about discrimination, oppression, unfairness or a grievance of any kind under a system of Indian self-government. What does a member of that community do?
Ms Gottfriedson: I guess that is part of the oppressive Indian Act where people are put into their elective positions. They can be put into those positions with a minimum of votes from any hand. If there is a part of the band that decides not to vote or be a part of that elective system, a person could get into council with 17 votes and they could have a membership
of 200. That person’s best recourse, given the situation that you laid out, would be to go to membership and rally support. He should either deal with that oppressive regime, have them meet his needs, or be thrown out.
The Chairman: But you do not think that person should in any way seek redress within the judicial system of Canada. Would that be right?
Ms Gottfriedson: I have never seen anyone take anyone to court on a housing repair issue. I know that in our hand there is a list of people who are eligible for housing repairs and they are done in priority as to extreme need down. I know that there is only a limited number of dollars allocated to a band, if they even get any dollars. So the chief and council are also put in a dilemma, but they probably could have dealt with it in a more diplomatic way. And I do not know if this person took his case to court if the court would have jurisdiction over the chief and council, given the legislation as it is now.
The Chairman: Mr. Oberle went on in his questioning and I thought the issue became rather confused when he went on, because he talked about discrimination in the Canadian society with respect to employment opportunities or accommodations, That is, a member of an Indian community may seek opportunities in the Canadian society and may face the situation. Mr. Oberle suggested that having a charter of rights would not be much good to that person, that what we really need is more good will and better attitudes in society. Well. I think what we really need is a charter of rights, quite honestly, someplace where a person can go and say, I have been discriminated against, here are the facts, I want redress. I would not want to go through life relying on the good will of other human beings. It is better to have good law and good institutions.
Now, the question is, would you want all of those rights of the redress of grievance through the judicial system to be available to Indian people in the larger Canadian society? In other words, would you like them to be able to invoke the charter of rights if in seeking a job, in seeking accommodations anywhere in Canada they have clear evidence that they have been discriminated against? Do you want that right for Indian people?
Mrs. Moore: As first people of this country and as part of the Canadian picture within Canada, I certainly think I would like to have access to those kinds of guarantees. I also feel that in addition to that we need separate guarantees within Part II of the Canadian Constitution, which is what we have been working towards. In fact, the equality clause, which was a result of the first ministers conference, has opened up Part II, because the equality clause is an application of those rights and freedoms we hope to include under Part II in the ongoing process.
The Chairman: That is a very helpful answer, and it is exactly where I hoped we would arrive at in this issue of grievances, because under Part II you are really saying that no matter where an Indian person lives or under what jurisdiction they may come, they should have constitutional rights. Is that correct?
Mrs. Moore: That is right.
The Chairman: So if Indian self-government is recognized in advance, the people who live under that self-government will still have all the constitutional guarantees; that under Part II they will have constitutional guarantees when they live in that area under that government, and that if they leave that community and decide to go into the larger Canadian society for a period of years to fulfil themselves, then they will have access to all the rights that any other Canadian citizen has. So in other words, we are going to be sure that in terms of rights we are going to cover all the fronts. Is that right?
Mrs. Moore: Yes. that is right.
The Chairman: Okay, that is very helpful.
I have one more question.
Ms Jamieson: Can I have a supplementary to that, Mr. Chairman?
The Chairman: All right, a supplementary from Roberta Jamieson.
Ms Jamieson: I understood you to say something about having Indian jurisdiction set up their own laws and being subject to those.
If you found that parts of the Constitution guaranteed certain rights to all Canadians and there were certain laws within an Indian community, and those two things were at odds with one another, which one do you think should prevail within the Indian community for the Indian people?
Mrs. Moore: The Indian law, of course.
Ms Jamieson: Okay. Thank you. I think I understand.
The Chairman: The Indian law would prevail, but it would be from your list of—at the end you talk about—that is (6):
That laws adopted by Indian Governments will be supreme law in Indian spheres of influence. overriding all other federal and provincial laws in the same field.
Mrs. Moore: Yes.
The Chairman: In other words, Indian self-government would be jurisdictionally defined. In other words, you would not have your own system of criminal justice.
Mrs. Moore: Independent, no. There would be a court system.
The Chairman: But not in all matters; just in those matters . . .
Mrs. Moore: That is right.
The Chairman: —that were agreed on on a government-to- government basis.
Mrs. Moore: That is right.
The Chairman: What are the jurisdictions? We can take one obvious example, fishing: the regime adopted within the sphere of influence of the Indian community related to fishing, all the conservation regulations and so on, would be designed by that Indian government. But if you are talking about criminal acts, then you are talking about something different. Then you are coming under the Criminal Code of Canada.
Mrs. Moore: That is right.
The Chairman: is that correct?
Mrs. Moore. Yes.
I would just like to add that when we are talking about Indian law, we are talking about an ideal, if you like; a law that is going to be Indian law, that is going to be worked out from the grass-roots level, a law that will be a fair law and based on the principles of government: not just any kind of legislation thrown in, but something that is a responsible Indian government. That is what I am talking about So when the paper was written, it was with that in mind.
The Chairman: I understand that.
My second question is really just more of academic interest. In your paper you spend some time talking about the concept of “nation”. In the Native Women’s Association of Canada, where I know you do a great deal of research, has your research revealed that at one point in history Indian people began to employ the term “nation”? My understanding is that it is a term that became current in 19th Century Europe, and I am wondering whether Indians began to employ it at that time; or did it become current later on, or is it the adaptation of an Anglo-Saxon word that has been roughly translated from various Indian languages? Do you have an answer to that?
Ms Gottfriedson: That is more than likely what has happened: each nation or tribe has a word that means themselves or a people, and somehow along the line, with people travelling more, interacting more, it has changed it.
The Chairman: Well, that makes sense, because if it is a translation, a rough translation of an Indian concept, then it is not very helpful for us to examine in depth, in all of its complexities, the concept of 19th Century European nationalism. That is not helpful at all, because it is simply a term that has been taken and used by Indian people. What would be a great deal more useful would be to examine whatever is the equivalent in the Indian languages—one or more of the Indian languages—and find out what was involved in “community”, what was involved in “society”. I think to use the term “nation”—it seems to me if we are trying to connect it with 19th Century Europe, we get ourselves into some very awkward situations. Your paper reveals that; for example, a nation defined by international standards:
a) The ability to govern itself; b) A permanent population;
c) A defined territory: d) The ability to enter into international relations.
Is that what you want to impose on Indian communities, on Indian self-governments?
Ms Gottfriedson: I do not think we want to impose anything. It is that everyone across the country is at different stages of development. They have their own ideas of Indian self-government. Some of our people are still practising or reviving traditional governments. and then we have the Indian Act governments. A lot of these Indian Act governments believe they are traditional governments and are confused in that concept. They still need to work that out among themselves, within their own minds, come to a clear understanding, and then decide from there if that is the route they want to take or if they are prepared to do research to meet the needs of their people and not the needs of legislation or government or programs imposed.
What we are saying is that people need time to develop: they need the time to grow and should be given that chance.
Mrs. Moore: Excuse me. In talking about self-government and nations, if it is not a nation you are dealing with when you are talking about self-government, what is the term you would use?
The Chairman: The term we are using is “government”. “Indian self-government”.
Mrs. Moore: With no nationhood attached to that. Is that what you are saying?
The Chairman: I do not know. I have not examined that. But if that term “nationhood” applies to the European concept on North American original people. I would suggest it is not a very useful term.
We had one witness in here, for example, who pointed to the Prime Minister and said: He does not believe you can have a nation within a nation. Well, if you have 19th Century nationalism, you cannot, if you take that concept. But when Indian people use the term “nation”, I do not think they have adopted European nationalism and imposed it on themselves. They have taken a term which they have decided is a useful term and have used it. But I think it leads to all sorts of difficulties and confusions in the minds of people who may not have spent a great deal of time in looking at all the subtleties in the use of this kind of language.
So I am just raising it, as I said at the outset of my question. mainly for academic purposes. But I think you have been helpful in indicating it is a term that has been adopted and it is not a concept that has been adopted.
I have taken enough time. Do you want to add anything further to that before I go to the next questioner?
Mrs. Moore: I just wanted to know what your definition of nation was.
The Chairman: When I think of nation, I think of European nationalism, the rise of European nationalism and the development of the national concept in Europe, which was a reaction against the divine right of kings, where ordinary people wanted to have the general will accepted as opposed to the will imposed by a hereditary monarch who was supposed to have devine right. I have not heard any evidence that that concept is one that has been adopted among Indian people in Canada. It is a different use. The concept is different, although the term “nation” is used.
Mrs. Moore: So you associate “nation” with a reaction against something and the imposition of wills. Is that what you are saying?
The Chairman: Historically, that is the way it happened in Europe. That is the route through which nations came into existence in Europe as a reaction against a system that had dominated the continent. Then, of course, in establishing the general will you had a profusion of groups, because the general will among one group did not correspond to the general will in another group. Anyway, I will not get into all of that.
The next questioner is Ray Chénier.
Mr. Chénier: I am more confused now, Mr. Chairman. than I was a few minutes ago. These great philosophical discussions just boggle my mind.
The Chairman: Are you going to add to the confusion or are you going to bring some light?
Mr. Chénier: No, no.
One comment that really did not disturb me—well, I suppose it did—was when the chairman used the example of internal problems within a band. Right now we can blame the Indian Act. We can say, if these problems exist it is because you guys have imposed an act on us that is not necessarily ours. But let us carry the hypothesis a little further. Let us say that Indian self-government is established and you have your sovereignty. You indicated that there might be mechanisms in place to try to redress grievances, and so on. At one point you said that the person would either get his grievance redressed, would be kicked out, or would leave on his own. What would the responsibility of Canada be then? If, as you are saying, you have become nations, you have your autonomy and at one point a member of that nation gets kicked out, where would he or she go?
Mrs. Moore: Do you mean getting kicked off the reserve? Is that what you are saying?
Mr. Chénier: Yes.
Mrs. Moore: Where would he go to address the problem?
Mr. Chénier: No, this is after the problem has been discussed; the person is an undesirable and the band or the Indian government says, we do not want you. Do not forget, we have hypothesized that you have the right to citizenship. It is the nation that decides on the citizenship of its members. so you can either bring people in or you can throw people out by saying, you are not a citizen any more. What happens to that person once he gets kicked out and he loses his Indian citizenship?
Ms Gottfriedson: Citizenship in the Indian world is based on family, it is a birthright. I guess I have problems in seeing somebody’s getting kicked out.
Mr. Chénier: But it could happen.
Ms Gottfriedson: It is a possibility; if they are practising Indian government and there are mechanisms in place, that is one possibility. I just cannot see that happening. . . people giving someone the boot.
Mr. Chénier: I will put the question in a larger context: If we continue with the hypothesis that Indian self-government is in place, that automomy is there, sovereignty is there, and so on, what is the responsibility of Canada? At that point there would be a type of funding, there would be nation-to-nation negotiations on issues, and so on. But what is the responsibility of Canada towards individuals who are within the control of Indian self-government in a given area?
Ms Gottfriedson: I think you are trying to get us to solve a problem that we have to work out ourselves. It is an internal problem that is part of the process of growing and developing.
Mr. Chénier: But it is more than an internal problem, because really what we are saying is that we will have two nations. Let us, for the purpose here, say that you will have an Indian nation or a group of Indian nations and you will have the Canadian nation, and they will live side by side, and your nation or nations will have their own government in parallel with ours. What will be our responsibility as a Canadian nation towards your governments and towards your individuals? Will it cease? Will we maintain the same responsibility as we have now?
Ms Gottfriedson: I see what you are getting at.
Mr. Chénier: Yes.
Ms Gottfriedson: Why do you not just come out and ask?
The government has a responsibility to native people. A lot of land has been taken away and has not been compensated for. A lot of resources have been taken and have not been compensated for. A lot of damage to our lands and to our peoples has not been compensated for. This has been going on for hundreds of years.
I have no problems with the government providing resources to native nations.
Mrs. Moore: Could I just add?
l have a question. How would you help that person?
Mr. Chénier: I do not know.
Mrs. Moore: How would the Canadian government help that person?
Mr. Chénier: This is what I want to know from . . . You are saying that this is what you want, and I am asking how you deal with the other. . . To be quite honest, I would say that if certain things happen—because, if you were granted self- government and you were recognied as nations, there would be mechanisms put in place for the funding. It would certainly be a compromise.
Sure, we recognize that damage has been done; we recognize that there are treaties that have not been fulfilled; we recognize that there is compensation that has to come out and so on. But what would have to be done. That would have to be decided upon so that the funding would flow. But then, if all these things happen—it is like once the treaty is signed and you are granted these things—where does our responsibility lie beyond that?
Mrs. Moore: Do you think that once self-government is in place the Canadian government should no longer be responsible?
Mr. Chénier: Well, it makes it very difficult if you talk about a national government that is supposed to be autonomous and another government is still responsible. It means that one government in many instances is dependent on the other one although it is supposed to be autonomous.
Mrs. Moore: Dependent financially, if you like.
Mr. Chénier: Yes, in a way; but that is not the part that interests me. What bothers me is what happens to people when they fall between the two governments.
Mrs. Moore: l think it would be reasonable… I cannot say absolutely for sure because I have not worked enough in that process to be able to come with some clear and concrete answers, but I would think the laws that are made by the Indians would apply to the reserves and to the people on those reserves, and if I chose to move off my reserve, then I would have to live by the laws that were governing where I was living.
Mr. Chénier: Yes, okay. If I choose to leave, that is one thing, because that is an individual’s choice, and I think that would remain; but I was talking about the fact that if the Indian nations can establish citizenship, they can remove citizenship. If that nation throws the person out, does the responsibility fall back on Canada?—because do not forget that you are talking about at government-to-government relationship. Now, one government has taken a decision in saying that they do not want you. Would that government have to go and negotiate with Canada and say, listen, we are planning to throw Ray Chénier off our reserve, are you going to take him into Canada?
Mrs. Moore: So what you are in fact saying is that the Canadian government, which is now responsible for the status people, would then be responsible for the non-status people of that reserve.
Mr. Chénier: They would become non-status according to the Indian law.
Mrs. Moore: Well, whatever. Non-resident.
Mr. Chénier: You see. these are things that are also important and have to be looked at.
Mrs. Moore: I do not know if we can answer that question.
Mr. Chénier: Okay. I will come back to something that Mr. Oberle and Mr. Penner mentioned before. It is the question of the use of the international courts. I think what you meant by the use of international courts was if there were a problem between Indian nations and the Canadian government. You were not necessarily talking about there being internal problems. Let us suppose that within a nation there were a problem; it is not that they would go to the international court to get that settled.
Ms Gottfriedson: I could see that if a problem within a nation could not be resolved by the people no matter how they worked it out or what means they tried, and if they were still willing to try to work something out but were unable to, it could be taken out of that arena and put into another one.
Mr. Chénier: But the international courts do not have any sanctions. unless I am wrong. Maybe Roberta can enlighten me on that. International courts cannot take sanctions against anybody. They can recommend that you change this or that you change that. In many instances, if you are like Canada, if you have done something wrong, the fact that it is publicized and you look bad in the eyes of the world will maybe make you change. But would that really be a place that would bring redress?
Ms Gottfriedson: It may be the place, but we are still looking at different processes to meet our needs, and that is one area we are starting to do research into. There are a number of areas we are looking at, but we have not come down with a miracle.
Mr. Chénier: I like where you talk about nations. I believe it is on page 4 where you say that closer analysis shows that most bands are really local communities of a nation. In theory I think it makes sense that all bands in Canada are part of a nation. But because bands are in many different places, maybe within the Iroquois Confederacy some communities would refuse to work under that nation. How would you resolve that problem?
Ms. Gottfriedson: Just in my area alone, with the Okangan people, there are seven bands that make up the Okanagan Nation. We have a tribal government and an education committee. As such, if a band does not want to be involved in the process we are in, that is their option. But the door is always open for them to come in. It is not for us to impose upon them things that we are doing.
Mr. Chénier: Yes, but let us suppose that under Indian self- government we were to. . . I will put it in a different way. Let us take funding, for instance. You are saying that Canadian government would still fund the bands individually, under maybe an umbrella agreement, and then have sub- agreements with each band.
Ms Gottfriedson: That is possible. I think in some areas that is being done.
Mr. Chénier: Yes; but because we are working under the Indian Act, the federal government can decide anything. But if we are not working under the Indian Act—Ernie Daniels was here a few minutes ago, and the chiefs of Manitoba have been working, trying to develop a budget process, or a funding process, with the federal government. Let us suppose a nation has agreed with the federal government that the funding will be such and such for that group of people. But then you have one band that says, we do not want to belong to them; we want to be on our own. Would the funding formula for the nation be applied to them? How would they receive their funds? How would it be guaranteed that they would receive their fair share?
Mrs. Moore: I would just like to say at this point that, first of all, we have not been able to have any work or research done in that area. I think the questions you are asking us are very technical questions, and what they show is that we need time to work on these questions. We definitely need time. We could answer a question on our own opinion, but that is all you would be getting: our own person opinion.
Mr. Chénier: Yes, that is all we can get at this time.
Mrs. Moore: The details have to be worked out together with our people.
Mr. Chénier: Okay.
The Chairman: Thank you, Mr. Chénier.
Mr. Manly: Thank you, Mr. Chairman; and I would like to thank the representatives from the Native Women’s Association of Canada for appearing.
I would like to ask some questions about your comments regarding membership, You say:
The current dilemma we find ourselves in over “membership” is not only the Native People’s problem to solve, nor singularly a Canadian issue.
Then you suggest several possible steps.
First, we again call for formal talks between the Assembly of First Nations and ourselves to establish common grounds I and principles relative to this issue—with a commitment to negotiate areas where we do not have common ground.
Have there been talks between your organization and the Assembly of First Nations at all on this?
Ms Gottfriedson: Not formal discussions.
Mr. Manly: Not formal. Have you made a formal approach to the Assembly of First Nations for such talks?
Ms Gottfriedson: Yes, we have on a number of occasions, verbally, by phone, or in written form — to sit down together and come to some common front, to work out the areas we do not agree on.
Mr. Manly: Can you indicate to the committee the areas on which you do not have common ground?
Ms Gottfriedson: There are some members of the Assembly of First Nations who do not want discriminatory changes to the Indian Act.
Mr. Manly: That would be the one basic issue. Okay.
Then you carry on and say:
Secondly, Canada must be prepared to accept. without question, the resolution worked out by the Native leadership.
I wonder if you could expand on what you mean by that.
Ms Gottfriedson: If we come to a common agreement that all of us can live with, and we can support each other on that and we bring that forward, the Canadian government should be prepared to support it; to take that recommendation and implement it.
Mr. Manly: Suppose you are not able to come to a common agreement. What then?
Ms Gottfriedson: I guess I would have every hope we will.
The Acting Chairman (Mr. Chénier): Mr. Manly, could I interrupt for just a moment? Mr. Chairman has to leave, and he asked me to replace him. I was planning to leave myself, so could we work it out from the list here? Only you and Ms
Jamieson have questions. I do not know if Sandra will have any. But could we arrange to divide the time so that at 5.30 p.m. I could leave?
Mr. Manly: Sure. I would have appreciated it if you had taken slightly less time for your own questions . . .
The Acting Chairman (Mr. Chénier): I am sorry.
Mr. Manly: —in view of your time constraint.
An hon. Member: Hear, hear!
The Acting Chairman (Mr. Chénier): Thank you.
Mr. Manly: You have every hope of reaching some kind of agreement.
I would like to turn now to the recommendations you make, your basic position. Recommendation 7 is:
That Indian Governments determine their own membership. but only after all of those so entitled have been listed or relisted on their respective band lists.
The minister promised this committee last December, I believe, he would act with considerable haste to bring in legislation that would follow some of the recommendations brought forward by the subcommittee on discriminiation against Indian women under the Indian Act. As you know, those recommendations include doing away with the discriminatory sections, and they also provide for reinstatement and for instatement of women who lost their status and all first-generation children.
There is considerable opposition to this proposal on the part of some Indian governments. What is your position on that? Do you still wish to see the minister act with considerable haste in bringing in such legislation, or do you wish to wait until the talks between your organization and the Assembly of First Nations have taken place?
Ms Gottfriedson: I think we are still pressing for that piece of legislation to go through. I would hate to see the minister when he is not in a hurry to see something get done. But to this date we have had no indication where that piece of legislation is in the system. At one point we were told it was in Justice; and from there, I do not know where it is. On a number of occasions we have asked to see the wording of that legislation to ensure it is going to meet our needs; and if it is going to meet our needs, then we could fully support it and we would like to see it put through as soon as possible.
Mrs. Moore: Maybe one of the questions I have. . .I am of the understanding that a Cabinet document has been written. Does anyone have any information on that? Is it possible for us to see a copy of that?
The Acting Chairman (Mr. Chénier): I believe that is right. I asked to see the document; and because it was a Cabinet document, I could not see it. So I believe it is there. I do not know. I am like you; I am in the dark. I do not know where it is at this point.
Mrs. Moore: You do not know where it is. Is that it?
The Acting Chairman (Mr. Chénier): But I can check. I can try to find out.
Mr. Manly: I sure would like to see that legislation at least tabled before the end of June, so both your organization and Indian governments would have a chance to study it during the summer.
Ms Gottfriedson: Yes, during the summer. We most definitely would, I am sure.
Mr. Manly: Recommendation 8:
That the membership criteria will become a law of the nation and its communities.
Do you have any provision that this membership criteria would be non-discriminatory? I notice that in recommendation 14 you say:
That Indian governments devise ordinances to ensure equal protection and due process to their membership, and agree to participate in an appeal mechanism to resolve disputes.
Under a system of Indian government, who would enforce that kind of provision?
Ms Gottfriedson: The way I see this, the people would have that control and would direct their government. because citizenship is based on families and is a birthright. If membership is based on that line, I do not see any problem.
Mr. Manly: Supposing that when Indian government was being recognized by the Government of Canada, the government that was in place was not truly representative of the people. and the government that was in place did not choose to have any of these provisions for equal protection and for due process. what then? Does the Government of Canada insist on certain basic standards before it recognizes Indian government?
Ms Gottfriedson: If these Indian governments are to practice true government, as they say they are going to, all those mechanisms have to be built in. In our past history there was no such thing as discrimination. Everyone had their role and place in Indian society. Both mechanisms have to be there. It has to be the people who decide, and the people who enforce those.
Mr. Manly: You have indicated that there are some Indian governments that, for example, do not wish to eliminate discrimatory sections of the Indian Act. Perhaps even a majority of their members would agree with them in that context, and would claim that it is part of their traditional culture. Now, if a majority of Indian people feel that way, and the Indian government feels that way, does the Government of Canada try to insist upon a certain standard that Indian
governments would have to meet before those governments are recognized?
Ms Gottfriedson: l guess that is why we keep saying that there has to be a period of time for these governments to develop; there has to be time for them to work out a number of concerns and issues. Because of the Indian Act’s being imposed upon us and creating attitudes that are contrary to our beliefs and cultures, those things have to be worked out. There has to be a process, and there has to be time for us to go out there and work with these people, and start dealing with attitudes and the way things are laid out. It is something that we have to work out too; how we are going to deal with these kinds of governments that continue to discriminate, or continue to do injustice to their people, We have not been able to follow the process right from A to Z. We are still working it out ourselves. We need that time to figure out all the mechanics; what is going to be blocking us, what kind of things are going to be jumping in front of us on the way to getting to an ideal situation. We need the time to do that. We have not had the resources. or that kind of time to look at Indian governments that are working—and there are some on this continent.
Mr. Manly: Could you indicate how long you think that process would take?
Ms Gottfriedson: I do not think I could really say, because everyone is at different levels of development, and different stages of development. Time has to be given to everyone to come to some level.
Mr. Manly: But even before there is agreement on this, you would like to see legislation introduced by the minister following the recommendations of the first subcommittee.
Ms Gottfriedson: That legislation was imposed upon us. We would like to see all that rectified. There have to be changes and it is, I feel, the federal governments responsibility to make those changes, They imposed that law upon our people, and it is their responsibility to remove it and to rectify injustices.
Mr. Manly: And that is with the clear recognition that what one group might call rectifying injustices, another Indian government might call perpetuating an even greater injustice.
Ms Gottfriedson: By legislation.
Mr. Manly: Right.
Ms Gottfriedson: We are prepared to work on those people
Mrs. Moore: As long as the Indian Act exists.
Mr. Manly: Pardon?
Mrs. Moore: I said that I think as long as the Indian Act exists it is the responsibility of the federal government to rectify Section 12(1)(b). As long as that act exists, the responsibility is in the federal governments hands.
Mr. Manly: Thank you very much.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The Acting Chairman (Mr. Oberle): Ms Jamieson.
Ms Jamieson: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Thank you very much for the brief. I just want to raise something very important in your last comment: “as long as the Indian Act exists”, Do you think it ought not to exist, or do you think we should be looking at legislation that will change the basic relationship between Canada and Indian governments in the future?
Mrs. Moore: Yes, I think that is the way we have to go if we are going to define ourselves in terms of self-government. The relationship does have to change; I mean, the very existence of the Indian Act and the fact that Indians are wards of the government.
Ms Jamieson: I will tell you right off the bat that as I follow your document, you are very critical of the Indian Act as you go through and say what its true role has been—racist, sexist tool, etc. And then you go on to say that many of these discussions should not be subject to the interference of any other entities and that they are things that have to be worked out within the Indian community itself.
Now, without discussing the issue of citizenship, I want to look at recommendation 13, where you suggest that revisions to the Indian Act make some allowance for the expansion of existing Indian territories to accommodate their reinstated population. My question really is this. Do you focus on that act because in your view that is all there is at the moment? Would you be happy if all your recommendations, in fact, could be met through other means, through other legislation, through other measures, or are you intent on dealing with the Indian Act and amending it as an instrument of law?
Mrs. Moore: Disregarding Section 12(1)(b)?
Ms Jamieson: Yes.
Mrs. Moore: No. I think the fact that the Indian Act was used here was that it is the only mechanism in place now to deal with those kinds of problems. That is why the reference to the Indian Act.
Ms Jamieson: But if other measures could be found—for instance, other pieces of legislation, constitutional amendment. whatever—you would be just as happy, would you?
Mrs. Moore: Yes.
Ms Jamieson: Okay.
On the constitution, then, and dealing with some of these issues, many witnesses have said to us as background that entrenched in the Constitution ought to be the recognition of self-government as a right for all Indian communities. Would you agree with that, or do you have any views on that, including the responsibility fiscally to support these Indian governments?
A lot of Indian witnesses have told us that they want the right to Indian self-government to be entrenched or recognized in the current Constitution—not granted, etc., but recognized in the current Constitution—that not only the right to self- government be recognized but also the right for Indian governments to expect fiscal support. They used examples like the equalization payments mentioned for provinces within the Constitution. How do you feel? Do you have any views on that?
Mrs. Moore: I think we would like to see Indian self- government entrenched in the Constitution. I think that with the discussions we have had amongst ourselves, as far as equalization payments go we would not want to see any type of equalization payments which would tie us into certain criteria on the spending of that money. That money would have to be used in maybe pre-negotiations to find out where our needs are, because I know that in terms of equalization the provinces do have problems in the criteria that are tied into that money and where it is spent; the needs in provinces differ. So if you have a universal program with universal criteria on where and how that money will be spent, then you are defeating your purpose of trying to address the needs within those Indian governments.
Ms Jamieson: So you would like to see direct transfer payments of some type with limited accountability, much as the provinces receive them. There are not the multitude of strings attached to those moneys that there are to those that currently go to band governments,
Mrs. Moore: Yes. I cannot say exactly that it should be transfer payments as such, but some type of mechanism loose and flexible enough to address the needs of the Indian local government.
Ms Jamieson: I wanted to come back to something that a number of people have raised here, and that is this Charter of Rights. Many people within this country are very enamoured with this idea and feel an obligation to protect individual rights of people all over the country—and throughout the world, as a matter of fact. There is fear that somehow when we set up Indian governments or finally recognize that they do exist we will have to reach over into the jurisdiction of those Indian governments and look out for the rights of individual Indian persons.
I will tell you right now that I do not buy that. I think mechanisms were developed, do exist in some areas and can be developed to protect individual rights within the collective rights of the Indian communities. Why can we not have a charter of Indian rights, for instance? All the Charter of
Rights is is the people who have the ability to grant sovereignty to some form of government say you have the power to govern affairs, except I reserve these certain protections to myself.
Now, why cannot Indian communities have those kinds of mechanisms? I think this is highly unlikely, but say there is some government in there that is just violating human rights left and right of Indian persons; instead of running to the Canadian government—or to your Canadian MP, with all due respect—why could we not run to the First Nations or an Indian government appeal mechanism on the road to, say, international . . .? That is an international forum, in a sense. Maybe it is not the current ones that are set up, but that is an international forum.
What are your views on that? Do you not think we could have our own charter of rights, as it were, our own mechanisms to protect those things? In fact, I think they do exist in some parts of the country.
Ms Gottfriedson: I guess those are some of the things we have been saying, that people need the time to develop or to bring back what was there in the past.
I am sure mechanisms are in place that ensure that no injustices are done to the people or the citizens of the nation. We need that opportunity, and we need that chance to develop and to bring that forth.
Ms Jamieson: So the question really becomes one of timing. While you are in the transition of developing, who is responsible to look out for that? When does the federal government get out of the business of managing Indian lives and Indian government and Indian institutions; that is the question.
Ms Gottfriedson: No one can really say, because everyone across the country is at different levels of development, and it would be for them to say when.
Ms Jamieson: What would you think if we came to some terms with some system within the Indian community, amongst all the First Nations of the country, as to what kinds of criteria we should have in our constitutions; and then once we had those criteria we would table those somehow in a national registry and then it could be demonstrated—and I do not think it is desirable, but unfortunately in many quarters it is necessary, to demonstrate to the Canadian government that there are these checks and balances. that you do not need this kind of interference any more. It seems to me we have to have a system to tell them, okay, get out; we do not need that any more. I would like to do it tomorrow; but I understand your fears. I do not necessarily agree, but I understand your fears. But do you not think we have the need to develop that kind of mechanism?
Ms Gottfriedson: I agree. I see it happening, but it is going to take a long period of time, especially if you want to involve
all the grass-roots people, the people it is going to affect directly, They have to have input, and they have to have a full understanding of what is going to be coming down. They need the time to understand and become a part of the process. If that does not happen, then you are having another government imposing ideas again, even if it is our own.
Ms Jamieson: I wanted to follow up on two things that were raised the last time you appeared before the committee. One was when we were talking about the proper relationship between First Nations’ governments and Canada, you indicated that it should be one of a government-to-government relationship on an equal footing. I asked at that time what role, if any, in that relationship you see for the Department of Indian Affairs. I would like to ask it again now. Maybe you have given it some further thought and would be able to let us know. As you may know, most people before us are saying if not abolish it immediately, phase it out, cut it down drastically.
Ms Gottfriedson: I guess I would have to agree that the department is not really meeting our needs. It has developed into a high level of Indian business, and everything is remaining at the top and if not imposed upon us, kept there I would have to agree that I do not see any real need for the department, unless they change their role drastically and become I do not know what. But they are not meeting our needs. In fact, they are taking away.
Ms Jamieson: This committee is likely to make some recommendations on the Department of Indian Affairs. We have asked a number of witnesses how they felt about the department and what they felt should take its place. and there has been some reluctance—and understandably so. Many of the witnesses have said, well, look, that is Canada’s problem; how they structure themselves to deal with us is their problem; they are a separate entity, we are separate governments, and how they decide to relate to us is their problem.
I understand that point of view. Unfortunately or fortunately, whichever way you look at it, this committee is responsible to tell Canada, recommend to Canada, the way it should structure itself to recognize and accommodate instead of frustrate Indian government. That means we have to come to terms with some of the things that are in place at the moment in recommending to Canada maybe what it should do and also maybe what it ought not to do.
Do you think there should be a minister responsible for relations with Indian governments? Do you think we should have an Indian fiscal arrangements commission? Or maybe if you have no comments specific to those two things, maybe you could tell this committee what we ought not to be recommending.
Ms Gottfriedson: The last thing we need is to have more bureaucracy set up. I do not know how you, or we, are going to deal with a department and the minister. I guess I have
problems with that because I do not see any positive things which have been done by that part of the government. If there could be constructive and positive concerns met, then that need would be—well, having the minister there would meet a lot of needs.
Ms Jamieson: Okay.
Ms Gottfriedson: I guess a concern we have is that we want to be in control and to manage our own affairs. direction. goals and aspirations, and not to have someone pulling strings.
Ms Jamieson: Okay. That provides us with some helpful direction about what you would like. Again, people are stressing flexibility and the giving of room, more than anything else.
I want to ask one other question. Once again, it goes back to your first appearance before the committee. It is unfortunate that Mr. Penner has left, because this is an issue he raised several times. It is with respect to a national Indian assembly. You will recall that we got into this discussion the last time you were here, as to how one satisfies your concerns with respect to equality. I mean that in terms of a make-up of an assembly or the method of selection or checks and balances that would be in that kind of assembly. You will recall the debate with the chairman on whether you think our Parliament is representative of the country of Canada, and the concern that, no, not enough women are represented even in Parliament. Then the chairman threw it back and said, Well, can you bring us your views? I wonder if you have given that any more thought and if you have any suggestions to offer.
Again, there are some suggestions that we look at such ideas as special representation in the House of Commons for Indian governments, or organizations of Indian governments; that we look at a special Indian legislature: that we look at a special Indian senate; that we have some interface with Parliament. Then comes this question of what kind of an assembly to have, and then. of course, your concern. Now I know in different parts of the country they have been trying women’s councils and different things. I do not know if you see it as a positive step or a negative step. Do you have any other ideas in that area?
Ms Gottfriedson: Excuse me, but I am just trying to get it clear as to what you are saying. Are you asking how women could be more involved in the Indian national, or in the government, structure?
Ms Jamieson: Well, we are going to have to have some structure to interface with the government structure. Maybe you are interested in direct representation, special representation, in the House of Commons for native women. If so, let me know. Otherwise, the last discussion really focused on a national assembly and how women could be represented in it in a way to satisfy your concerns about equality.
Ms Gottfriedson: One thing we have discussed in our organization is the development of a native women’s circle
within AFN. That is about as far as it has gone—that is, we have just discussed it.
Ms Jamieson: Is that what they are doing in Manitoba?
Ms Gottfriedson: I think that is how it is structured. We have not had a real chance to sit down and talk to those women, but they do have a women’s circle which complements the men’s organization. And I can see us playing a major role with the Assembly of First Nations in having a women’s circle to complement others and to help in decision-making which affects us directly.
Ms Jamieson: Thank you, Jane.
I have no further questions, Mr. Chairman. I merely wanted to . .
The Acting Chairman (Mr. Oberle): I just wanted to say that the bells are going to ring at a quarter to, and I wanted to recognize Ms Isaac.
Ms Jamieson: I merely want to compliment them on their brief, especially as they have taken us right from the local level to the international level and integrated those ideas. They have concentrated on the First Nations’ government having to begin at the people level, which was one of the primary reasons why the AFN was set up. In fact I may tell you, if you do not already know, that Mr. Ahenakew, a couple of weeks ago, charged the First Nations with getting their citizenship laws in order and encouraged them to work at the First Nations’ level with so-called non-status Indians in order to do that. Again, I think the difference remains in the Indian Act and the need to amend it, but I would like to let you know that that is occurring.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The Acting Chairman (Mr. Oberle): Thank you, Ms Jamieson.
Ms Isaac: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
On page 6 of your brief, you state that:
The commitment of the Native Women’s Association of Canada is to work for the establishment of conditions that allow our future generations the continued freedom to develop in any manner they wish.
How does this relate to the ongoing process, or how may it affect constitutional talks? Perhaps I will rephrase it: What
mechanism do you want in there that could accommodate this provision you seek?
Ms Gottfriedson: Could you repeat that, Sandra? I was shuffling my paper.
Ms Isaac: Okay. It is on page 6 of the brief, in the third paragraph, where you talk about future generations. You want them to have continued freedom to develop in any manner. The question I was asking was, how does this relate to the ongoing process or to the constitutional talks, and what mechanism do you want in there to accommodate that provision for future generations, to keep it loose?
Ms Gottfriedson: Right now in the Canadian Constitution and in the charter, the items under Part II do not really meet our needs; in fact, we have a fear that they are going to restrict us again. We want to ensure that any negotiations or commitments made on behalf of Indian people allow for future generations to be able to continue negotiations to meet their needs at their time, be it 50 years from now or 100 years from now—that whatever decisions are made today will not restrict them in their time. One of the beliefs of the native women is that they should always look to the future, especially to the future of the unborn. It is not up to us to impose decisions we can live with now upon people who are coming along down the road. I am not sure how we are going to ensure that that this happens.
Ms Isaac: Perhaps the consent clause, then . . .
Ms Gottfriedson: There has to be something . . .
Ms Isaac: Entrenched.
Ms Gottfriedson: —in place to ensure that, and a consent clause may do it, so that there is always that door open for the future.
Ms Isaac: Okay.
I would like to deviate somewhat from the presentation and address some of the issues that demand, I guess, immediate consideration, especially in light of the ongoing process. Are there areas that you feel the Native Women’s Association of Canada would like to see highlighted at future talks for the benefit of Indian governments? If so, can you make those known to us? I will ask this question now, as well: Do you think the work or objectives of your organization are complementary to, or could complement, the work of other associations? I am talking of the area of child welfare.
Ms Gottfriedson: Are you talking about agenda items for the next constitutional talks? One of the first agenda item we would like to see, and I am sure it is on the agenda, is the equality clause. Because of the way it is worded, it is restricting us and it is not what we had put forth. We are also concerned about mobility rights. We are concerned about fishing and hunting rights. We are concerned about adoption. We are concerned about traditional cultural rights, such as religion and language, and a number of issues under that. Under mobility rights I guess would fall our concerns with the international scene along the border crossings. We want to ensure that intertribal marriages are respected. We have concerns with that, because if our people marry into the same nation on the other side of the border, they have to give up rights on this side, but they are not accepted into the nation on the other side because of their membership laws. Their membership who marry into our side are immediately put on our band lists. Those are the kinds of things we would like to see straightened out.
We are very concerned about child welfare. We are concerned about health. We are concerned about education. We are concerned about the drug and alcohol problems our people face. We are concerned about housing. On any aspect of our lives that affects us directly we have a concern and we would like to see something done about it. Some of those issues we are working on now within the organization.
Ms Isaac: And perhaps advising other organizations.
Ms Gottfriedson: Yes, most of the organizations we have a very good working relationship with. In fact, we try to complement each other or support them in whatever they are doing.
Ms Isaac: Those are all the questions I have. Thank you very much.
Thank you. Mr. Chairman.
The Acting Chairman (Mr. Oberle): Thank you very much, Ms lsaac.
Any further questions?
If not, do you have a closing statement?
Ms Gottfriedson: Yes. This is a research compilation we have done in regard to the Indian Act and Constitution. We would like to table it with the committee for its reference.
The Acting Chairman (Mr. Oberle): Could I have a motion to have that document filed with the committee?
Some hon. Members: Agreed.
Ms Gottfriedson: We would just like to thank the committee for taking the time to hear our presentation and listen to the responses to your questions.
The Acting Chairman (Mr. Oberle): Thank you very much, Ms Gottfriedson and Miss Stacey Moore. As you have learned from the questioning today, your brief was very stimulating and innovative in a number of areas. As you also know, the interests of your association are well represented in the committee. As we are going into the drafting phase of the report, on behalf of the committee I can assure you that your views will be considered. Thank you very much.
Ms Gottfriedson: We will really watchdog that.
The Acting Chairman (Mr. Oberle): I know you will be a watching us, and we will know if you do not.
The meeting is adjourned to the call of the Chair.
From the Native Women’s Association of Canada:
Ms. Jane Gottfriedson, President;
Mrs. Gail Stacey Moore, Chairperson, Indian Act and Constitution Committee, Board of Directors.