Minutes of Proceedings and Evidence of the Special Committee on Indian Self-Government, 32nd Parl, 1st Sess, No 9 (22 February 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 9 (22 February 1983).
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HOUSE OF COMMONS
Issue No. 9
Tuesday, February 22, 1983
Thursday, February 24, 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 INDIAN SELF-GOVERNMENT
Chairman: Mr. Keith Penner
Vice-Chairman: Mr. Stan Schellenberger
Clerk of the Special Committee
MINUTES OF PROCEEDINGS
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 22 1983
The Special Committee on Indian Self-Government met at 3:40 o’clock p.m., this day, the Chairman, Mr. Penner, presiding.
Members of the Committee present: Messrs. Manly, Oberle, Penner and Schellenberger.
Other Members present: Messrs. Burghardt and Gingras.
Ex-officio member present: From the Assembly of first Nations: Ms. Roberta Jamieson.
In attendance: From the Research Branch of the Library of Parliament: Mrs. Barbara Reynolds and Mrs. Katharine Dunkley, Research Officers. From the Parliamentary Centre for Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade: Mr. P.C. Dobell, Policy Co-ordinator.
Witnesses: From the Assembly of first Nations: Mr. David Ahenakew, National Chief. From the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations: Chief Sol Sanderson.
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.)
Mr. Ahenakew made a statement and, with Chief Sanderson, answered questions.
It was agreed that Appendix “A” entitled: “Working Draft: Proposed Amendment to Part II of Constitution Act 1982.” attached to the Assembly of first Nations’ presentation be printed as an appendix to this day’s Minutes of Proceedings and Evidence. (See Appendix “SEND-11”)
At 6:38 o’clock p.m., the Committee adjourned to the call of the Chair.
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 24, 1983 (22)
The Special Committee on Indian Self-Government met in camera at 4:01 o’clock p.m., this day, the Chairman, Mr. Penner, presiding.
Members of the Committee present: Messrs. Allmand, Chénier, Manly, Oberle, Penner, Schellenberger and Tousignant.
Ex-officio member present: From the Assembly of first Nations: Ms. Roberta Jamieson.
Liaison member present: From the Native Council of Canada: Mr. Clem Chartier.
In attendance: From the Research Branch of the Library of Parliament: Mrs. Barbara Reynolds and Mrs. Katharine Dunkley, Research Officers. From the Parliamentary Centre for Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade: Mr. P.C. Dobell, Policy Co-ordinator.
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.)
The Committee proceeded to consider its future business.
Mr. Oberle moved,—That the Clerk communicate with the Black Lake Band, the Fond Du Lac Band and the Lac La Hache Bandand invite the bands in question to submit their brief in writing, with the possibility of appearing before the Committee on another occasion, or of having members visit their reserves or communicate with them by telephone.
After debate, the question being put on the motion, it was negatived by show of hands: Yeas: 2; Nays: 3.
Mr. Manly moved,—That the Committee pay reasonable living and travelling expenses for the above—mentioned bands in order that they may appear before the Committee in Saskatoon.
After debate, the question being put on the motion, it was agreed to by show of hands: Yeas: 3; Nays: 2.
It was agreed that the Committee next meet on Wednesday, March 9, at 3:30 o’clock p.m..
it was agreed that the Chairman request by letter to the Prime Minister ten (10) official observers’ seats for the Committee at the first Ministers’ Conference on Aboriginal Rights scheduled for March 15 and 16, 1983 in Ottawa.
Mr. Allrnand moved,—That, following agreement by the Members on the wording, the Committee issue a press release reporting major proposals made to the Committee by Indian witnesses re: constitutional issues and that the Committee urge that these be taken seriously by Federal and Provincial governments.
After debate, the question being put on the motion, it was agreed to.
On motion of Mr. Manly, it was agreed that certain research papers which were listed in an answer to a written question (No. 4397) from Mr. Jack Shields, M.P., be requested from the government.
At 5:52 o’clock p.m., the Committee adjourned to the call of the Chair.
Clerk of the Committee
(Recorded by Electronic Apparatus)
Tuesday, February 22, 1983
The Chairman: Order. The Special Committee on Indian Self-Government is in session.
We are pleased and very privileged to have back before us again Dr. Dave Ahenakew, National Chief, Assembly of first Nations.
We want you to know, Chief Ahenakew, that since our last meeting with you before the special committee, we have covered a good deal of territory and have received what I think is amounting now to probably close to a tonne of evidence. A great deal of information has been communicated to us, points of view, suggestions, and we are busy, by way of our staff, collating all of that material. I think all members would agree with me that our experience so far, as a special committee together, has been an exceedingly rewarding experience. We have found across Canada a great deal of creativity, a. great deal of fertile ground, in this whole question of Indian self- government. The response has been very impressive, and we feel at the end of our assignment we are going to have some very relevant things to say to Parliament.
That is by way of introduction. We are most anxious to hear from you today. There is a major statement that you have prepared, and I think it has been distributed to all members of the special committee. So without any further words from me, Chief Ahenakew, we would be delighted now to receive your statement.
Mr. David Ahenakew (National Chief, Assembly of first Nations): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. first of all, I would like to introduce two of the people beside me: Dave Monture, whom you have met before, is my special assistant; Jessica Hill is a special adviser to me and has had some involvement with the committee in terms of observing and monitoring some of the activities and some of the statements.
However, Mr. Chairman, members of the committee, when I last appeared before you I asked your indulgence to meet with you again to share our perceptions to date and to suggest areas that need to be covered. In addition, I will attempt to give insight into how the first Nations governments will structure their systems and institutions, and secondly, ways in which the first Nations’ relationships with Canada can be renovated, restored, and expanded; and to suggest also some options for, first, funding mechanisms which might be mutually acceptable to both of us, and secondly, arrangements that will provide the necessary framework for interface with your government structures to make relationships with the first Nations more productive.
I want to make it clear that my statement should not be interpreted as the last word. This statement is as much a working document for the use of the first Nations as it is a document for the examination of the committee. We are together engaged in a complex process, and today is not a deadline, by any means. I am here to offer some ideas on how things can proceed on various fronts and how a system can be developed to establish a framework for the development of individual first Nations governments. Essential to this framework is its non-limiting and flexible nature.
I would like to draw a linkage between the mandate of this committee and the Constitution. These two processes are like two legs carrying along the same creature. To exemplify this linkage, I submit appendix A, “Proposed Amendment to Part II of Constitution Act 1982”, and appendix B, “The Key Constitutional Principles of the Assembly of first Nations”, as reference papers. These documents have been tabled with the federal and provincial governments in our discussions on the Constitution. On review, you will understand my statement at my first appearance that we are not asking you for anything more than to recognize what is already ours. I ask that you reprint these in the record of today’s hearings.
The federal government is not supporting our proposed amendments in the constitutional arena. It is subtly working against us while seeming to be neutral. It is astounding and unacceptable that with less than one month to go before the first ministers conference, the federal government still has not taken a preliminary official position on amendments proposed by the Assembly of first Nations. Rather than do what is just and correct, the federal government wants to maintain the status quo. Even on the questions of the continuing constitutional process of consultation, not consent, on future constitutional change or of the repeal of Section 42(1)(e) and (f), the federal position is still not clear.
In summary, the federal government is undermining the very purpose of the Section 37 conference. The spirit of Section 37 was that additional rights were to be affirmed at this conference. Instead, the federal government, by hiding behind its chairmanship, has effectively stalled and thwarted the legitimate first Nations aspirations. You as members of Parliament can help us to reverse this immediately and force the federal government, our trustee, to declare publicly whether it is for us or against us.
Canada—first Nations relationships: There is a gruit variety among first Nations governments, and in this diversity lies our strength. We of the first Nations accept the principle
that one nation does not tell another nation what to do. This committee should maintain this principle of government-to- government relationships in all its recommendations.
There are those who have certain notions that first Nations will be autonomous and separate territories within Canada. Others allude to provincehood or federal enclaves. Each idea appeals to some but not to others. In any case, Canada will not be hurt by our self-determination. We have always said we would share. Canada must enter into the only relationships possible: those of mutual respect and co-existence with the first Nations.
We do not seek enabling legislation. Confirmatory legislation is required. We, the first Nations, are a fact in Canada. Our governments do exist, even though they have been submerged under an administrative cloak of present outmoded legislation. We will exercise our right to our own governments, and you can provide the interface by recommending a series of progressive and creative legislation which governs Canada’s conduct. We will not be satisfied with tinkering with the Indian Act or any act which leaves us subject to the discretion of a minister.
Some mention has been made of the matter of aboriginal seats in Parliament. My view at present is that no amount of extra seats in Parliament can replace a guaranteed system of protection for rights in the Constitution and supportive legislation.
On the question of jurisdiction, I have to challenge two myths. One is that the first Nations lands are under federal jurisdiction. The second is that certain elements fall under provincial jurisdiction. Clearly, the first Nations lands are or must be under the jurisdiction and control of first Nations governments. This principle must be recognized and respected by all other governments.
Conflicts of jurisdiction are inevitable. However, these questions of jurisdiction are matters which Canada must work out by agreements with each first Nation and as each situation warrants. We expect that first Nations will retain and exercise most rights and jurisdictions which provinces now have within Canada, and some others which are the special rights of the first Nations. first Nations governments will have to develop judicial systems that will establish laws, institutions, and procedures according to the needs and customs of each first Nation.
The provision of services to Indians is a federal item on the constitutional agenda. The first Nations position is that control and responsibility for services remain with first Nations governments, accountable to their own people. A first Nation may decide to provide services itself, or it may amalgamate with other first Nations in a tribal council arrangement for services. It may also contract with a provincial or a federal government, or even private enterprise.
People of the first Nations are determined to make first Nations government a reality. Confirmatory legislation would provide. the framework for first Nations governments and institutions to operate within. Specific agreements could be developed between individual first Nation’s governments and other governments to provide the appropriate application of rights and services, without abrogating any aboriginal rights and title or treaty rights.
This committee realizes, as a result of its own examination of the Royal Proclamation of 1763 and its visit to the United States, that the only acceptable relationship between the first Nations and Canada is that of government to government. This was implicitly recognized in the signing of the treaties.
Canada needs to enter into new, expanded, or revised treaty relationships with those first Nations which desire to do so. New relationships in which none of the currently—guaranteed rights are up for bargain or loss. To my way of thinking, treaties have been broken. But my understanding is that, if treaties are broken, then we go back to square one. If Canada cannot live up to the terms of those agreements, then we must reconsider how to deal with this situation.
Even though the Constitution is not within the main realm of this committee, the committee should assume that the constitutional conference next month and the process which may follow it, eventually will arrive at the only correct moral decision possible—that the principle of honourable treaty relations will be re-affirmed on a permanent basis. Thus, it wouldbe perfectly in order for you to recommend that Canada establish a treaty commission to consist of some of Canada’s most respected and honourable persons to negotiate mutually- acceptable treaties or revisions of treaties with any first Nation wishing to do so. Treaties would require the consent of the Crown as well as ratification by the first Nation involved.
In addition, I am suggesting that the committee recommend that Canada enter into a process with the first Nations to establish an aboriginal and treaty rights protection office. This is an Assembly of first Nations mandate which is stated in the first Nations treaty and aboriginal rights principles and, again called for in a draft constitutional amendment, appen-
We would suggest that the protection office be given quasijudicial powers both by Canada and those first Nations subscribing to it. Its decisions would be considered binding upon both parties. It would have special authority to seek evidence and issue penalties to parties which violate terms of its decisions.
In addition, it would have available to it, other powers, such as mediation, conciliation, and arbitration. It would give equal weight to the first Nations’ complaint of violations of rights as to the Canadian interpretation of the limits of those rights. It would not leave first Nations totally vulnerable to hidden government opinions of what aboriginal rights are.
A protection office would be a watchdog against any jurisdiction threatening aboriginal and treaty rights and lands. Such a protection office would take the question of rights out of politics. It would relieve first Nations of the pressures of constant legal battles and provide a stability in first Nations relations with Canada. Those first Nations who felt this process to be unsuitable would continue to have access to all processes now available.
It is possible that an aboriginal and treaty rights protection office could have, as one of its functions, a trust department, not unlike the trust department in a bank. first Nations and the trust department would draw up an agreement which would give clear instructions on how they wished to handle their funds. This department would routinely issue statements to first Nations in order that first Nations’ governments would receive the maximum return and benefit for dollars invested. Also, this trust department might be a place where first Nations’ lands could be vested and protected against encroachments by other jurisdictions.
In such an undertaking, many details would have to be negotiated but the orinciple must be established early. Your committee can help to set into motion a process to have an aboriginal and treaty rights protection office as a mechanism to protect our rights.
Another agency is required through which Canada can fulfill its obligations to the first Nations. This agency, or “fulfilment office” to apply an arbitrary title for the sake of reference, would have a secure source of revenue. For example, some of the obligations now held by the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development could be transferred to such an agency. When the period of transition would be over, this agency would be Canada’s agency to fulfill its obligations to first Nations. The fulfilment office would accept any judgments made by the aboriginal and treaty rights protection office. Any new treaties or agreements would automatically be fulfilled by this non-political agency.
We would caution, however, that at the outset, any transfer to such an office would have to have the consent of the first Nations involved. Should any first Nations be unwilling to rely upon the fulfilment office, alternative arrangements could be specified in its agreements with Canada.
There will be a need for a transition period. We see it as a relatively brief period. Present band councils would continue until each first Nation has developed its own constitution and appropriate institutions.
We began a process in the early 1970s to develop first Nation governments and constitutions. That effort was interrupted when Canada decided to develop its own Constitution, and our efforts were diverted to protecting our aboriginal rights and title and treaty rights. This effort has consumed much of our time, energies and resources. In the future, we will again pursue a plan that will take us systematically through a process of development which first Nations can tap into. However, the move from present structures will not be painless nor easy.
I think it is safe for the committee to think initially of each individual “band”, as the Indian Act calls them, as a “first Nation”. Our genius has been in remaining small. As the people. begin to develop their forms of government, some bands may divide; others may elect to merge. They should be free to do so. In some instances, a group of first Nations may elect to express their collective sovereignties as a tribal group or as a regional group. Indeed, this is occurring now. The highest expression of our individual right is to share that right with the collective in the nation.
Our first. Nation governments must satisfy accountability and responsibility to the people. The modes of achieving that accountability and responsibility will be ours. You must respect that.
When I address the question of funding mechanisms, I am reminded that these are difficult economic times and, as parliamentarians, you have a responsibility to Canadian taxpayers and to the well-being of Canada. We are not asking that money be taken out of someone else’s purse and be given to us. We only want what is rightfully ours. We have the right as first Nations to participate in, and to contribute to, the economic, social, political, and cultural life of Canada through our first Nations government. We will no longer be excluded.
It is with this objective in mind that I am about to give you a series of recommendations on ways in which your committee can change the financial relationship of the first Nations with Canada. We have heard no federal oroposals which would do any more than make cosmetic changes to the Indian Act. Those proposals would further entrench a system which both you and we have found debilitating and inexcusable.
We have positive positions to put forward. The first Nations are now pressing for the restoration of our resource base for the support of our first Nations governments and our people. You must address your minds to a restoration process which completely changes the land claims process in a manner acceptable to the first Nations and international standards.
Since no first Nation has ever abandoned its right to levy taxes in its jurisdiction especially on corporations, industries and non-Indian residents, this committee should in no way limit that right nor impose its application. This decision remains with each first Nation.
Third; we ask you to propose a type of transfer or equalization payment from Canada to each first Nation on a mutually- acceptable formula similar to those payments now received by provinces and based on the same principle—a sharing of Canada’s wealth. Multi- or bloc-funding must be sufficient to meet the basic needs of the first Nations government. These funds would be accountable in a similar manner to that by which provinces must account to the federal government for transfers of funds. While there is a principle that the wealthier provinces pay into the equalization fund, the first Nation governments would receive their income without such consideration on the basis that the first Nations have already made a one-time-only contribution of resources to Canada sufficient to capitalize a fund for current payments. A first Nations fiscal arrangements commission might be responsible for developing the formulas and mechanisms necessary.
Further, first Nations governments would continue to have access to continuing federal programs, by agreement in which standard accountability would be expected. Similar agreements could be entered into with provincial governments as well.
I understand that this committee intends to explore application of rural development aid as a possibility for first Nations. The recent parliamentary task force on North—South relations has said that this type of aid has produced:
. . .positive economic and social change in developing countries. By so doing it has helped liberate the potential of many human beings, and has become a concrete expression of peaceful international co-operation.
The committee will recognize, I am sure, the applicability of these same words to the first Nations of Canada.
We suggest, then, that this committee explore legislative and other required administrative arrangements to create a first Nations development agency. This agency would be modeled along the lines of CIDA with similar roles of accountability. Grants would be based on concrete development proposals of quality by first Nations governments and of nongovernmental organizations such as co-operatives, and would permit development assistance from international agencies.
The effects of colonialism have been disastrous to the first Nations. It is necessary to undertake special reconstruction efforts to recover from the damage. I recommend that your committee press for the appropriate legislative and administrative requirements to create a foundation for first Nations
community reconstruction. This agency would provide funds to first Nations to re-establish themselves according to their own priorities. Such an agency might have a sunset clause of 20 years or so.
In summary, then, I am suggesting that first Nations governments be given substance through increased resource bases, transfer or equalization payments to meet basic needs, a CIDA-type development agency, the option of taxation, and a foundation for first Nations reconstruction.
One of the areas which is confusing to this committee and one which, at times, is confusing to us, because of the way it has been twisted and distorted over the years, is the area of trust responsibility. The question has been asked of us as to how we can talk about self-government and still insist that the trust relationship be retained. I say that our move to self- government does not relieve you of your trust responsibilities, and that your support of our move to self-government is a part of that trust responsibility to us. Once we have our nation-to- nation relationship back in order, we will have a joint responsibility to ensure the survival of the first Nations and protection of their lands and rights. When the first Nations signed treaties, it never entered their minds that they would ever cease to exist. They agreed to share so that your people could survive. There was a trust expressed, whether written or unwritten, which made you responsible for our survival as ”first” nations. This is part of what we mean when we say trust relationship”. You may speak of trust in legal terms only if you wish, but they are moral, political and international aspects of trust which cannot be ignored.
Our right to govern ourselves comes from our Creator. We have never given our right to self-government to anyone else. Our position on first Nations government is soundly based, both on the facts of history and our own traditions.
We each have responsibilities. On Canada’s part, Canada must honour and respect our aboriginal rights and title, including those rights we have formed in treaties; second, those additional rights which were, or which will be, agreed upon by treaty agreements; third, your responsibilities to honour your trust relationship by recognizing, respecting and protecting our distinction as first Nations.
We, too, will be accepting our responsibilities as first Nations. The Assembly of first Nations is a self«determining body and, until the assembly meets in May, I cannot say what its intentions are. However, I intend to propose that it create an independent first Nations institution for the development of our governments, which would assist in the community processes needed to develop first Nation constitutions. There islthe need for a parallel training and development program for first Nation government leaders and administrative staff. Much of this development would not be from experts down,
but would be processes in which the first Nations themselves could share ideas and strengths I would expect that such an institution would receive funding from Canada for its local and regional meetings, personnel, etc.
I would assume, also, that the assembly would develop some sort of recognition process through which Indian Act band councils, evolving to become first Nation government, would be recognized by other first Nations.
I should mention, too, that we will maintain relations with other indigenous peoples and those peoples of the world friendly to our interests. We take this as a basic right that we are not prepared to delegate to Canada.
The Assembly of first Nations is a new and evolving process and structure. In May it will discuss the results of the constitutional conference—perhaps even sooner—and the work of this committee. If the assembly is not under fire in dealing with emergency situations which Canada has created, it may be able to make constructive efforts in building the necessary commissions and authorities for the flourishing of first Nation government.
We would suggest that you create a joint commission to conduct a dual campaign—one aimed at Indians and a campaign aimed at non-Indians —to create the necessary dialogue and support for your report.
In conclusion, Mr. Chairman, first Nation government is a fact of life in Canada. Canada must give it recognition, confirmation and respect. We are talking about self-government as a reality, not as an abstraction or an academic lecture. It is nothing that you can give to us, The right to it is already ours and we will exercise it.
We call upon the members of the committee to take some extraordinary measures, besides the routine legislative and administrative arrangements. We ask you to support an immediate protocol between the Assembly of first Nations and the Government of Canada, calling for a suspension of all efforts to impose programs and policies connected with the Indian government bill, and the extinguishment of rights and title through any process.
I believe that, because of the intensive educative process you have experienced as members of this committee, you will have no hesitation to assist us in taking extraordinary measures to create the favourable climate necessary so that you, as parliamentarians, can pass legislation that is in accord with the moral principles involved.
In the constitutional process in which we are now engaged, Canada has the opportunity to forge a basic new relationship. This parliamentary committee must exercise its special responsibility to recommend a posture for Canada which is morally correct. It will find that it costs nothing to do so, and
that it will, in fact, pay dividends for all time to come. We will be Joined in this solid partnership for the good of the land and all her peoples. So it will be with our children and your children.
Many witnesses have said that this committee will make its report fade from existence and that nothing more will be heard. They say that after the committee makes its report, legislation will be introduced which will be forced on the Indian people with the excuse that intensive consultation was carried out by this committee. We ask that this committee extend its life and expand its scope as a parliamentary committee to ensure continuity and consistency in the reconstruction of Canada’s relations with first Nations. It would work with the Assembly of first Nations to oversee implementation of its report.
One last word, Mr. Chairman. The Assembly of first Nations has appointed Roberta Jamieson to this committee. Ms Jamieson has the full support and confidence of my office and of the Confederacy of Nations. This process is as much an experiment ‘for us as it is for you. We do not want to get caught up in political gamesmanship and manoeuvring. We have adopted a principle of involving all political parties in everything we do. Indian self-government should not be a party matter, and we hope you will continue to work in a non- partisan way or, rather, in unison, with all-party support. With Ms Jamieson’s involvement in the committee, with the Assembly of first Nations involvement with all stages of the report-writing process, which you will recall is our agreement, we believe this experimental partnership in which each of us maintains our own identity and integrity will make its mark on the Canadian parliamentary system. But you must keep your processes open.
Any insinuation that we are manipulating the committee is ludicrous and an insult to you. We take this committee very seriously. We want a solid report you will stand behind.
The attitude of this government and your membership on this special parliamentary task force will help determine whether we will have a harmonious time ahead or a time of continued struggle and conflict between the aboriginal people of this land and Canada.
I know this committee is thrashing around with the complexities of a very serious and difficult situation. You are hearing evidence day after day. I believe this committee will continue to be confused and stymied until it makes a very basic decision. That decision is whether you will be satisfied with tinkering and reforming a colonial structure and arrangement which has been the cause of the dismal situation in which we find ourselves, or if you are prepared to make a break with the past and recommend basic changes in the relationship which
Canada has with the first Nations, changes which will go beyond the Indian Act.
Once you have made that decision, the rest will be easy. All the answers will flow from that decision. If instead you decide to putter around with administrative arrangements, you will contribute very little to the situation and you will become one more committee to add to the list of those which Indians can remember appearing before, and you can be sure that in another 10 or 20 years there will be still another committee wondering what to do with a situation which has become progessively worse. I do not believe that is your intent.
Dr. Lloyd Barber saw the situation clearly in 1974, and in a speech which has already been quoted to you, he said;
Native people are seriously talking about a distinctly different place within Canadian society, an opportunity for a greater self-determination and a fair share of resources based on their original rights. No doubt this will require new and special forms of institutions which will need to be recognized as part of our political framework.
And that is your task, to create your new and special forms of institutions within the Canadian political framework. You will find that task easier once you have made the basic decision I mentioned which, in other words is: are we going to do it or not? The sooner you make that decision, the better and easier it will be for us all.
I have included for your reference a summary of my recommendations.
I think I will stop there, Mr. Chairman. I am a little out of breath, but I just want to say to you that we appreciate the work you have been doing. You have been asked some very hard questions, and you have twisted the noses of some of your colleagues within your parties to hear us out as accurately as is possible. I want to stress one more time that the work you do and the report you write must be, and I know it will be, accurate and constructive. Thank you very much.
The Chairman: Chief Ahenakew, thank you very much.
Chief Ahenakew: Mr. Chairman, I would like to call another person who appeared before, during the first appearance, Chief Sol Sanderson, Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations.
The Chairman: While Chief Sanderson is coming forward, Chief Ahenakew, it is my understanding that you wish to have the appendices appended to todays Minutes of Proceedings and Evidence. Is that correct?
Chief Ahenakew: Right.
The Chairman: Is that agreed?
Some hon. Members: Agreed.
The Chairman: Chief Sanderson, welcome back before the committee. Do you have an additional presentation, Chief Sanderson?
Chief Sol Sanderson (Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations): Mr. Chairman, some of the points will be covered by the presentation when you are in Saskatchewan next week, but we have prepared a document dealing with a development agency, which we can add to the submission of the Assembly of first Nations, applying to the recommendations.
The Chairman: Is that document available now?
Chief Sanderson: No.
The Chairman: It will be available when we come to Saskatchewan. That is fine, thank you. Sol, did you want to make further comments now?
Chief Sanderson: Yes, Mr. Chairman. We would like to know the intent of this committee with respect to the continuing processes that are there. Chief Ahenakew has stated some positions and some recommendations. How are you working towards linking up your work and findings to the process on the constitution?
The Chairman: With respect to the Constitution, at the conference itself members of the committee will be observers, and that is the only status we will have there. As far as I know, each political party will be discussing their position within their own caucuses. In the national caucus, of which I am a member, it is on the agenda for discussion tomorrow and I will be addressing members of my caucus on the issue. Other members of the committee will do the same. I cannot speak for members of other caucuses.
In terms of a position by the committee itself, we are still at the public hearing stage. We have not sat down and come to any conclusions ourselves. We have a timetable that allows for that. At the present time we are still gathering evidence, asking questions, and I would say that almost every matter raised in Chief Ahenakew’s excellent statement has at some time or another been mentioned either by members of the committee who have raised it or by witnesses who appeared before us.
I would have to say, Chief Ahenakew, that in terms of your presentation it is clear that we have travelled a great distance since you first appeared before us and since this committee was first struck, and travelling a great distance, I am not only speaking in geographical terms. I think we have moved well beyond political rhetoric on behalf of politicians who sit at the table with me, and certainly well beyond rhetoric from the Indian leaders we have met across the country. There has been very little of that. There has been a great deal on the side of serious, considered, viable, real and concrete proposals.
I recall some time before this committee was struck that a well-known columnist in Ottawa said that this committee in going about its work, or a committee, would find that there was little out there in the country except the attempt to till barren, hard ground, but we have not found that at all. We found, as I said in my opening comment, a great deal of fertile thought and consideration on very, very serious issues, not only for Indian people but for this nation.
I have mentioned on many occasions while we have been travelling of my growing awareness of the gap, sometimes I describe it as a chasm, that exists—a gap of understanding or a chasm of misunderstanding that exists between, I think, Canadian people generally and Indian people in this country and which certainly exists between the Government of Canada and the Indian people. I do not want to sound boastful, but I think members of this committee have travelled some distance in narrowing that gap. You in your own presentation, sir, talk about the educative process. I think we have all received an educational process that is at the post-doctoral level. It has been intensive, and we hope that the narrowing of the gap which has occurred among members of the special committee can be communicated to our colleagues in Parliament, and we hope eventually, as you yourself instruct us, that we can be instrumental in narrowing the gap that exists in the larger community, the Canadian community.
I do not think there is any doubt at all that all members of the committee in responding to Sol Sanderson’s question about a continuing process would think it would be incomplete if the committee simply reported and then hoped for the best. I think there is going to have to be a commitment beyond the report to Parliament in the fall of this year; there is going to have to be some sort of a follow-up. Exactly what my colleagues will suggest in terms of that, I do not know. I know the idea finds favour among them. Whether it will be the standing committee with a continuing responsibility in that regard or some other method, we certainly do take that seriously.
I am sorry with respect to the other part of your question, Sol, that I cannot be more specific in terms of the Constitution. Our terms of reference do not open the door for us to propose to Parliament the constitutional changes. All I can say, again repeating myself, is that you certainly do have our support for the kind of process that you expect and that we have come to expect. We do not know what it will be. We certainly have come to the conclusion that it is going to be a lengthy process; that it is not going to be one that will be over in a couple of days, or even a couple of meetings that would follow the meetings in March. It will be a continuing process. But what we will be watching for very carefully as observers of that conference is that it is off in the right direction. It will certainly be the subject of conversation among ourselves, and it will certainly be the subject of conversation when we carry on with public hearings after the Section 37 conference has taken place. We will be asking Indian leaders with whom we meet whether in their view it seems that the constitutional endeavour has got off to a good start, on the right foot.
I am now going to ask members of the committee for their response and their questions to your document. I am just wondering, Sol, whether you have additional comments before I do that.
Chief Sanderson: Yes, Mr. Chairman, I have just one more question to the committee. I think it is important that the Assembly of first Nations know clearly the intent of the committee prior to the Section 37.(2) conference being held. I think we beg the question of whether you do have in your terms ‘of reference the work that relates to the parliamentary committee process now as it ties into Section 35 of the Constitution. I would differ with you in terms of your interpretation of your mandate.
In dealing with the continuing process, as you know there is general consensus that there may be a continuing process in the constitutional arrangements, so how do we isolate your recommendations and your consideration that is being given now to a continuing process on the legislative process from that of the constitutional process? What we want to have from you as the chairman, and also from the committee members here, is clarification in more specific terms prior to Section 37.(2). Is the committee in the position to issue an interim report and a. statement in terms of what these considerations might be? Also, youtknow that we have unanimous consent among the first Nations and the Assembly of first Nations for the Declaration of first Nations. That is the fundamental document that we have been working from across Canada. Is it the intent of the committee to declare support for that declaration prior to Section 37.(2)? I am asking, Mr. Chairman, these questions for clarification . . .
The Chairman: I understand.
Chief Sanderson: —because the confederacy is meeting in the city today and we are going to be dealing with these questions further tomorrow morning.
The Chairman: I am going to let members of the committee speak for themselves when it is their turn, but I want to say again at this point that we have not agreed upon any recommendations of any kind. We have talked about many, and raised many before witnesses for their point of view. When I talked about a continuing process for the work of this committee after it reports, I was merely reflecting on conversations that have existed among committee members. At this point there is no such recommendation, but there may very well be. It seems to me that there is a great deal of logic in that, and that is why I raised it.
More specifically you ask whether there will be an interim report. The committee in some of its deliberations without witnesses—that in our in camera meetingswhave talked about the possibility of an interim report. I think the conclusion generally is that it would be premature to have an interim report that had recommendations. We do not want to close off any possibilities for our report to Parliament. However, the matter will he discussed again. We are meeting again Thursday at 3.30 p.m. and that particular item will be discussed again.
We have considered alternatives to an interim report. For example, we have considered issuing a press release upon which we could agree, not making recommendations because we have to be a little bit careful here. Parliament has told us to report to them, and we want to be careful we do not pre-empt that assignment of Parliament and that responsibility we hold to Parliament.
It is possible the committee may agree on a press release which would state principles or themes we think are relevant, both to what we are doing as a committee and what may emerge in the constitutional process. There may be a common meeting ground to which we could contribute. That is a possibility.
I mentioned also the caucus discussions that will go on before March 15 and 16. We have talked as members, using the 90-second rule that exists now in Parliament to make statements about the constitutional conference. We would do that either on an individual basis or on the basis of party backing, depending on how the different caucuses function in that regard.
So far, Chief Sanderson, that is the only conclusions we have come to. I realize they are much less definite than you would like. Speaking for myself, at this point, I would think the likelihood of an interim report to Parliament is unlikely, considering there is so much evidence to be assessed, so much discussion that has to go on among ourselves before we could do that; and there is the danger of choking off prematurely certain conclusions that may be more appropriate further down the road. I am not so sure it would be helpful.
However, other members may want to speak to that particular point themselves later on. That is all I have to say on that.
Chief Sanderson: My last question is: When would we be able to get an indication from the committee on some of the specific recommendations by AFN?
The Chairman: The recommendations that are in Chief Ahenakew’s document.
Chief Sanderson: Yes.
The Chairman: Whether or not they find favour with the committee.
Chief Sanderson: Yes.
The Chairman: I do not think we could give that undertaking until we have completed our public hearings. Then, as a committee, we will sit down and begin to write our report.
I suppose the Assembly of first Nations will not know exactly our response to these recommendations until we report to Parliament. I have to emphasize again this special committee has its first responsibility to the Parliament of Canada. We have been given our existence by the Parliament of Canada; our terms of reference come from Parliament, although it is
true they were negotiated among all the political parties and with the collaboration of the Assembly of first Nations. But before we report to Parliament, I do not think we could say to the Assembly of first Nations that we agree on recommendations numbered such and such.
Are there further comments?
Chief Sanderson: I have one more question, but I would like to hear from the other committee members on what has been asked and put to the floor now.
The Chairman: Yes, all right. We will now open the discussion to other members of Parliament. I will call first on Frank Oberle.
Mr. Oberle: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Dr. Ahenakew and Chief Sanderson.
I must confess to you I am deeply impressed with your submission today. Having made such a total commitment to this process, it means to me literally the culmination of 10 years of work on the Standing Committee on Indian Affairs and Northern Development.
I feel honoured and privileged, because of course, I was forced to read between the lines of your statement. What I read into it today is that we have earned your respect and confidence; and I am talking for all the members of this committee. You have laid before us now what is obviously the position of the Assembly of first Nations. You have shared with us for the first time the proposals you will be taking to the constitutional conference.
May I say, Dr. Ahenakew—and again, I speak for all members of the committee—we have worked very hard to earn that respect and confidence? It is, of course, an essential first step toward a solution we all seek. Frankly, I did not have that assurance after your first meeting with the committee, but I agree with you the wisdom you have displayed by choosing Roberta Jamieson to work with this committee has served all of us well.
Personally, I could not have written a better summary of what has transpired so far on the committee. I think if you have worked long and hard enough, great minds begin to think alike; and you have laid out for us a lot of food for thought.
What we are trying to achieve is a balanced report. As you know, we did travel to the United States, and one thing stuck in my mind. We were talking to congressional and senatorial officials about a report that was published there in 1977 under a mandate similar to that we are working under, It did not receive much consideration afterwards. Very few of the recommendations in the report were implemented.
I felt assured the same kind of total dedication and effort had gone into that particular report; and obviously, the questions you raise are very legitimate. What will happen to the report and to the work this committee is doing, after the report is tabled? Will there be any follow-up? Will there be any reaction to it?
We were told one of the reasons the report received so little attention is that it was seen as a one-sided report, that there was no balance. So one of the things I think this committee must do is achieve a certain balance and listen to both sides of the argument.
As you know better than anyone, there is so much misunderstanding, so much ignorance in the country about the real difficulty that Indian people are facing in Canada as Canadians. I see the work of this committee and the conclusion, the report, as a major effort to dispel some of the great myths that abound and to enlighten not only our colleagues here in Parliament, but Canadians generally, about the problems of which all of us here are very much aware and concerned.
Hopefully, with our combined effort, it will be possible to bring about a marked improvement in the socio-economic conditions of the native people in this country and a more dignified lifestyle.
But we must also attempt to bring about an understanding of the problem in the rest of the country and, in so doing, to take the first step in relieving Canadians and our great country, our great nation, from this incredible burden of shame that rests on all our shoulders because of the neglect, often official policies of neglect that have been the policies of governments.
I know that you would like me for my party as well to comment on the question of where we stand on the Constitution, where we stand on follow-up, I must confess to you that I have very little to add to what the chairman has said. In fact, I would like to throw the question back to you and ask you how this committee could be involved.
If there were an opportunity for each of us individually to work on your crusade leading up to and following this constitutional conference, certainly you would have my commitment and undoubtedly that of every member on this committee. As the chairman has said, it is not our mandate to intercede or to intervene in the constitutional process.
I, too, have a commitment to brief the members of my parliamentary caucus about the things that we are doing to bring about a better understanding there, and I will certainly be amicable to any suggestion that you might make and that we might collectively make to issue a statement or a preliminary report in advance of the constitutional talks.
Frankly, I must confess to you that I share your concern over the fact that the government at this late hour has not yet seen fit to indicate even to its own members, some of whom serve on this committee, what their position will be. Certainly they have given no such indication to this committee, and I am shocked to learn that no such indication has been given to you.
I know that it is now a constitutional requirement to carry on this process and bring it to some conclusion. I would caution you not to be too hasty. Looking at the government’s position, I would be very much surprised, as much as that
concerns me, if out of this first conference would come any other decision than to meet again some time in the future, because I very much think the government is ill-prepared, and certainly you would not be looking to the provincial governments to bring to the table any solutions that would be acceptable to you or acceptable and workable in the long term.
I appreciate very much having your position now to review, and I will certainly co-operate with the members and so will my colleagues cooperate with the members of the committee to take whatever step is prudent and within our mandate leading up to the Constitution.
On the other question, all of us have given serious thought to where we would go once our report has been written. As the chairman said, the idea of an ongoing process, particularly if it involved representation of the Assembly of first Nations, would find favour with at least myself and Mr. Schellenberger, and I assume all members of the committee. Again, it would be a mandate that we would have to rely on the House of Commons to supply, but certainly we would work toward achieving and receiving such a mandate.
Having said that, would you permit me to throw the question back to you? Have you any constructive suggestions to make as to what the committee could do before the crucial conference to assist with your cause and to assist with bringing about a better understanding in the country of what this constitutional meeting is all about?
Chief Ahenakew: Yes, Mr. Chairman, I guess I should answer that as seriously as I can, and humorously perhaps. first of all, I think if there is going to be any statement or report produced and submitted by this committee that you would declare support for the first Nations’ constitutional position. I think, secondly, as parliamentarians not necessarily constrained to your mandate, your terms of reference, that you begin to tell the fact of the first Nations to other parliamentarians of this country. I guess, thirdly, tell your constituents—and that is where the problem is—that you are an honourable person and you must honour not only the commitments of your forefathers but the fact that the first Nations have rights that go well beyond those rights of other people within this country. Convince your constituents that if there is to be honour and respect in this country then successive governments at all levels must cease immediately the erosion of all these rights.
I think that is the way I would like to answer that question, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Chairman, Sol would like to add to that, if he may. The Chairman: Chief Sanderson.
Chief Sanderson: I would just like to say that one of the concerns we have right now is that we do not control any of the processes that are going on. The parliamentary process—you have repeatedly told me every time I have come here: I cannot give you any answers because we have to report to somebody else. Yet everything that is happening affects us very directly.
The constitutional conference, Section 37(2): We still do not know what the positions of the provincial governments are at
this late stage leading up to Section 37(2) on many of the issues.
We have a concern in that the defining of Indian rights is going to go ahead without us and sort of default in that we do not control any of the processes that are determining those issues under Section 35 of the Constitution. We cannot afford to have that happen so one way the committee can help is by definitely issuing a statement of principles.
But even in some other ways: There is that false fear that exists with respect to some degree of sovereignty for Indian self-government. If we are to correct all those conditions you just spoke of, we have to recognize to some degree Indian sovereignty for self-government as it exists in Canada. I think a statement of the principles of political autonomy with respect to self-government is certainly key right now to helping define what present self-government may attain in the processes that are going on.
The other one, with respect to your last comment: As you know, AFN has resisted to some degree participating in Section 37(2) because of the presence of the provinces. I think the committee could also assist in trying to clarify the role of the provinces in relation to Indian concerns and the Indian issues and also spell out very clearly the special obligations of the federal government with respect to the Constitution and formalizing the political and legal relationships between Canada-Indian relations.
So those are three immediate areas that I would see having to be addressed by the committee with respect to helping move ahead in an orderly procms what we are concerned with.
At some stage in defining the ongoing processes we have to be able to influence those processes in a real way so that we do not sit with you people and then you go off to another room somewhere else and determine, in the final analysis, what is really going to happen. So with respect to your question, I just wanted to add those comments to Chief Ahenakew’s statements.
Mr. Oberle: Mr. Chairman, I have another question. Supposing it was the intention of this committee to issue a statement, a press release, an interim report, as I take it from your comment, you would want us to say that you should be allowed to assume a greater degree of control and input into the process. But I think more importantly, you would want us to define certain principles you feel would have to be entrenched in the Constitution, and you would want the committee to say that the entrenchment is important because it would put the courts on notice that they would have to answer some of the crucial questions which so far have been answered by politicians.
If I were to ask you to give me some indication as to what you perceive some of these principles of aboriginal rights to be, there is no question that what we are hearing in the country is that one of the fundamental and major principles is the right to self-government and self-determination. What are some of
the other principles you could state now, knowing full well that there has never been a clear definition of the whole concept of aboriginal rights? What are some of the other major principles that would have to be recognized before the constitutional changes are made?
Chief Ahenakew: Mr. Chairman, the attachments in my presentation include the working draft which proposes certain amendments or additions to Section 35, and in appendix B we have the principles of the Assembly of first Nations, which talks about title, treaties, Indian government, deletion of the word “existing”, as well as Section 42.1(e) and (l).
The enforcement of those principles… what I mean by enforcement is that we must have some formal mechanism, legal or otherwise, in which if there are agreements reached— for example, that there is aboriginal title and this is what it means—there is no guarantee that anything will ever be done to implement or enforce those agreements, and it is exactly the same way with the Indian government, treaty rights and so on.
Another principle that is very important to us is the initiation of amendments. We do not want to lock our future generations into something that we do now, and there are absolutely no provisions whatsoever in the Constitution, the amendment formula and so on, for us to initiate any change at all. I think that is very important.
So those are some of the principles. There are basically nine of them which we adopted last month. Those are the nine principles that were submitted to the ministerial Attorneys General meeting of the 31st and 1st and again, of course, at the officials meeting on the 15th.
We have grave concerns. We have mistrust. Mistrust is rampant amongst the Indian nations across the country, mistrust of governments, mistrust of Canadians. Somehow that has to be corrected. We, of course, do not have the resources nor, I suppose, the credibility to be able to single-handedly convince Canadians that the honour of Canada is at stake here. To some degree, so is ours. If we have absolutely no control, if we are at the whim or your constituents, for example, then there is no way on God’s earth that we will be able to initiate or influence enforcement, initiation of changes. There is just no way. We are at the complete mercy of Canadians and their political institutions.
I think this is where the fear and the frustration, and the defiance, is now being expressed and demonstrated very clearly by the leaders of these Indian nations across the country. It is a very serious matter. The provincial involvement in the definition and identification… and even striking out any guarantees or protection of me, or us, and our rights is not there. It is just not there.
I do not care if anybody in Parliament, in the legislatures across the country, says that we have guarantees and protections. That is absolutcly not true, There are provisions within that Constitution which eliminate all these. Those are fears that are very very clear across the country. That is why I say that the mistrust is certainly there, and I do not think we can live with that. I cannot.
So we look to the committee, as I said earlier, to exercise their good will, and I am talking about the real meaning of good will and good faith, in making sure first and foremost that these fears are removed. Secondly, we look to an absolute and clear demonstration that the survival and the rights in government, in title, aboriginal and treaty rights, are going to be protected and guaranteed until such time we say that they change.
I cannot, for example, ever agree that I should rely on the good will and the good faith and honesty of Canadians that they will make changes in the Constitution which will further enhance my future in this country, because it is just not going to happen, and that is the reality of the democratic system and political system in this country.
Again I am using harsh words as I did the last time, but I am reflecting the views of the leaders of my constituency, if you will. I am getting a bit frustrated—I am getting a bit bloody mad, I guess. . . that the confederacy members and myself meeting here now have to live with these matters and try to clarify certain situations.
Mr. Chairman, I guess there is another thing I should point out now, before we get any deeper. You all remember the 1969 white paper the Indians have been hollering about, and which you are so sick and tired of hearing about. It is alive. We have always said that it was very much alive. I just want to read something to you:
The policy rests upon the fundamental right of Indian people to full and equal participation in the cultural, social, economic and political life of Canada. To argue against this right is to argue for discrimination, isolation and separation.
The ultimate aim of removing specific references to Indians from the Constitution may take some time, but it is a goal to be kept in view. In the long term, removal of the reference in the Constitution would be necessary to end the legal distinction between Indians and other Canadians. In the short term, repeal of the Indian Act and enactment of transitional legislation, the Indian government bill the minister has been advancing and promoting and lobbying for in the last several months, are precisely what this policy is talking about. So how can we then trust people: that is what the leaders right across the country are asking.
It is getting to be a very emotional issue for me, but more than that, it is one I cannot live with very much longer without taking some real action that is going to shake this country. And damn it, I do not think we have to do that.
I do not think as honourable people who proclaim we are a just society—and that is what this paper is about, justice— there is no way we can justify the present atmosphere that exists; no way. I guess I have to say again, come hell or high water, the Indians are going to be on this land. Bullets, people, everything else are not going to wipe them out, only the
Creator, because that is how the Creator created the first Nations.
It is ironic that we can continue to talk about the changes that are necessary so the first Nations can have this cultural enhancement strength and so forth by policies, by programs, and so forth. Only the first Nations can do that. No one else.
Chief Sanderson: Mr. Chairman, to further your question and response requires a little more specific a response. You will recall from Saskatchewan we raised the concern of defining Indian rights using your language. I will give you a glaring example of our concern. The term “aboriginal”: is it a political term or is it a legal term? Where does the concept of “aboriginal” come from? It is a colonial term, based on the manyyears of history you people have created. The term “aboriginal” is basically a political term used to reach extinguishment of original people’s rights, resources, lands, territories, and government at some stage in the whole process of colonizing or decolonizing.
We still have not had any response from the constitutional process or the parliamentary process here. When you come out to Saskatchewan next week, we are going to be raising that concern again.
I would like to be able to get some clarification from this committee, here, if we are going to work on the specific definitions of Indian rights. Then we in Saskatchewan wil be doing it from defining those definitions and those rights through the various Indian languages.
How does that relate to the specific task you have of designing specific legislation dealing with the meaning of words? That is key, and it is very important in both the legislative and the political process that you are looking to establish for improving Canada—Indian relations. We will not forgo the right to define those in our terms. We cannot afford to.
That is just one example, dealing with the term “aboriginal” itself. I understand your own society does not accept it as a legal term. It is basically a politiml term.
We get into those kinds of finer details of defining and refining Indian rights in Canada. We have to be able to address those in real terms. That is not going to be an easy task, and I do not think we can afford to allow you people to go to a separate room and draft those pieces of legislation that are going to address the meaning of words that will be used for implementation through your legislative process. We have to deal with some way of enabling us to be part of the drafting team in the specific legislation that is going to come out of any findings of this committee or the constitutional process in refining and defining Indian rights.
Mr. Chairman, I hope that statement clarifies the concern we raised the first time around, and the time we tabled our documents from Saskatchewan. We still do not have any direction or any understanding from here or the constitutional
process on how we are going to deal with that outstanding question.
The Chairman: Just on that point, Sol, I am a little confused now. About writing the report, the Assembly of first Nations is directly involved by way of Roberta Jamieson. But you mentioned legislation . . .
Chief Sanderson: Yes. Mr. Chairman, just to qualify that, I am another phase down the road. I am trying to connect the two . . .
The Chairman: Okay, I understand.
Chief Sanderson: —processes, the three processes, the five processes, that we are in as AFN members. There are several processes we are in at once. How do we link up all these processes to be able to deal with the meaning of words and the actual legislation that is going to flow from your findings and other findings and other processes?
The Chairman: All right, that is a fair question. The simple explanation is that legislation will be initiated by the government. Whatever government that is, this present administration or some other administration, will fashion the legislation. But that legislation will be subjected to the parliamentary process. It will begin with a debate on principle in the House and then it will move to committee. It would seem to me at that stage the possibility for direct involvement again exists for the Assembly of first Nations because of the initiative we have taken to include ex officio members as active participants in the committee. Again, I do not want to write the report, but it may well be that the standing committee on Indian affairs in the future, in dealing with legislation, will have an ex officio member or members on it. That is a real possibility, because as my colleague Frank Oberle said, we have found that initiative to be a very useful one, a very helpful one. I do not think we would have travelled as far in our understanding in such a short space of time if it had not been for that particular innovation having been introduced.
Again, I think we are at this moment a little bit into speculation. But that is the way, Sol, legislation would be handled. It would come before members of Parliament and there could be many doors open for the Assembly of first Nations to look at this legislation, to suggest amendments, which then could be taken back to Parliament.
Chief Sanderson: Mr. Chairman, to clarify my question, I recognize daily the frustration that Chief Ahenakew is talking about, because again, we are dealing with processes that you people control, and you are always giving your final reports to someone else; plus you are also expecting us to define our specific rights and positions in your languages. We have to dul with those concerns. Those are very real concerns. That is the cause of a lot of the mistrust. That is the cause of a lot of misunderstandings: that we do not get to those types of discussions around these kinds of tables. If parliamentary reform is being considered, surely if we are to be a part, in some way, of a partnership in Canada, those institutions which are created from here on in would include our presence at all levels.
The Chairman: I am going to turn it over to Mr. Manly. I Just want to make one additional comment, though, because you are talking about terminology. I think when most members looked at the statement which came out of the White House with respect to Indian policy were rather impressed with the terminology. It was quite remarkable compared to anything we have ever seen in Canada. All the right words, such as some of the words which Dr. Ahenakew has in his statement, were used in that White House statement. It was quite remarkable to see that. But when we gathered evidence, we found out that the reality behind those terms was quite different. I think that is what haunts members of the committee, you know; that we could agree on terminology, but what we really have to get at is the reality that will flow. And I think that is what you are talking about and what Dr. Ahenakew has talked about.
There is the question: What kind of reality will emerge even if we can agree on terminology? It is the most pressing burden that I feel on myself in that regard. It would not be enough to use the right words. It is going to be far more important to know what will flow from those words, what will actually exist at some time in the future, because of a report we make, because of constitutional changes, or because of some other kind of legislation. That really concerns me very much. I will ask Jim Manly to take off now from there.
Mr. Manly: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I would like to thank you, Chief Ahenakew and representatives from the Assembly of first Nations, for your presentation. You have made some solid recommendations for our committee to consider. Certainly the majority of them have all been recommendations that we have heard time and again from Indian people in our limited travels so far. It is good to have them here in a way that we can deal with them in a concrete mariner.
First of all, I would like to try to direct a partial answer to Chief Sanderson’s questions, and your questions also, about the committee’s response, and any initiatives that we might take in advance of the Section 37 constitutional conference. One of the suggestions that has been made and which I think is helpful, is that perhaps a press release could be put out. Mr. Allmand who, unfortunately, is not here today, has drafted a basic press release in which the committee sets out the kind of testimony that we have received so far, and indicates the basic concerns of Indian people that we have heard. It is much along the lines of some of the things included in your brief.
The committee itself is taking not a firm position on any of these suggestions, but it is saying to the first ministers that these suggestions have to be taken very seriously by them. So
this would be a way of highlighting some of these concerns that have been made already.
Now, perhaps we can go beyond that. Perhaps it would be possible and desirable to make some basic recommendations to the first ministers. Perhaps it would not; you know, that is still not a debate that our committee has concluded by any means, I think there are some very valid reasons on both sides of the debate who are going to want to consider it seriously. At the present time personally I favour making some kind of an interim report, but it is still an open question in my mind. But if we were not able to make that kind of firm recommendation, would you feel that the basic press release setting out some of your concerns and simply asking the first ministers to take this seriously, would be at all useful, or would it be just kind of a futile gesture?
Chief Ahenakew: At the present moment the way things stand, that would be one hell of a lot better than nothing. We have nothing at the moment, so yes; the end of the answer is, yes.
Chief Sanderson: I just want to reinforce what Chief Ahenakew is saying. You people are leaders in your own right. I do not think you should hesitate to make some statements on some of the fundamental principles, so that you can signal to your own people that there is some real consideration being given to our issues and our concerns.
Right now everybody is sitting back waiting for Section 37. I do not know what they are waiting for, but everybody is so damn cautious that there is nobody making statements, and your own people, the non-Indians, do not know what it is you are intending to do.
So what we see happening is some politicians going out and generating support for, sort of, confrontation-type approaches to defining Indian rights, using special interest groups. The shining exaxple of that is the Wild Life Federation with respect to the continuing rights to hunt, fish, trap and gather. But there is one hell of a confrontation-type atmosphere developed out there with the support of various elected leaders. So somewhere along the way, you people have to stand up and be counted, if you are sincere about what you are saying here. I have followed closely the work of the committee, and I think you are sincere. But we cannot signal your people. You have to signal your people—not just your own people, your constituents, but, also, your own first ministers.
Mr. Manly: You mentioned confrontation politics building up, and I think all members of the committee are aware of a kind of sub-surface kind of confrontation. Even such a reasonable request as a consent clause in the amending formula has some people who would reject that out of hand. I think we are all aware of the kind of subsurface opposition to aboriginal rights in terms of hunting and fishing and food
collecting, as you ‘mentioned. But you suggest there is something more organized in terms of confrontation. Could you give us some details of that?
Chief Sanderson: I will reserve that for the Saskatchewan hearings next week. It will demonstrate to you very clearly what is happening.
Chief Ahenakew: Maybe I can just respond briefly to that. So we have used the courts of the country to restore some of the violation encroachments of the rights in, say, the hunting or even in the fishing area; and in Saskatchewan, we have won some Supreme Court cases. The Supreme Court has chastized the provinces and the federal government for violations of these rights.
So that happens in the Supreme Court of Canada—the highest court of the land. But what all the legislatures do together with the federal Parliament, or concurrently if you will, is to get draftsman in either their Justice departments or Attorneys-General departments, to change the legislation, with the result that anything we win is wiped out. So then we start all over again with new legislation which is more restrictive.
That is so in hunting cases and migratory birds convention cases. So we say, Where is the good will? Where is the good faith? Every time we win in your courts, you strike that down. It never becomes a precedent. A new law emerges which is more restrictive. And that is what is happening right now.
Regarding Sol’s statement, as a matter of fact I heard the news last week in Saskatchewan that the Minister for Tourism and Renewable Resources had said that we were responsible for the diminishing of game.
The Minister for Tourism and Renewable Resources had said that we were responsible for the diminishing of game, and that everybody in the future must be treated alike. In other words, permits, restrictions, seasons, you name it. So the Wildlife Federation, of course, lauds that; that is exactly what they want to hear. But the Wildlife Federation goes one step further than that. We just went through a by-election in Prince Albert, Diefenbaker country, a PC wins. The Wildlife Federation says hurrah. That is what the Indian nations of this country are faced with. It is a sad situation, ladies and gentlemen. It is an awfully sad, dishonourable, disgusting situation. So that is why we are pressing, and we will press and press hard to have these things clarified one way or another.
For example, if you made a statement in support or not in support of our principles and our efforts . . . Let us say you came out in support and Parliament, and the government, said you are out, guys, you are right out. Then at least we would know what good will and good faith means in this government and in this Parliament, and in this country, for that matter. We would know that, and that is great. At least we would find out something. Then we could use different methods of tackling the problems that we face.
Chief Sanderson: I just want to say that we would like to avoid that type of confrontation politics, because it undermines and undercuts any good faith and any good will that might be generated out of this process or any other process. Mistrust will just continue. So I think again, you, as parliamentarians, have some lead responsibilities to take in respect to playing down that kind of confrontation politics.
Mr. Manly: I can appreciate that very much, Chief Sanderson. One of the things in this brief points out that the whole question of Indian government should not become a partisan political issue, from the point of view of our three federal parties. Certainly within this committee… we sometimes have our tensions—we have tried to maintain a nonpartisan stance as a general rule. I think that is extremely important, considering the kind of information job that has to be done; informing the Canadian public about your rights.
That brings me to a second point. On page 20 you talk about the need for public dialogue and you suggest that the committee create a joint commission to conduct a dual campaign, one aimed at Indians and a campaign aimed at non-Indians, to create the necessary dialogue and support for the report which the committee will be bringing out.
I wonder if perhaps there should be more work done even before the committee finishes its report. Would it be helpful, for example, to hear some witnesses testify before this committee who themselves were non-Indians, but were groups that were broadly in support of some of your principles? Or do you feel that this committee should restrict itself to hearing aboriginal peoples?
Chief Ahenakew: Mr. Chairman, I have a brochure which is known as Project North. This is a combination of the many churches in this country which support the position of the first Nations of the country. But more than that, they have begun discussing good will, good faith, God-fearing and everything else, with their congregations and the people that they deal with.
Perhaps it would be appropriate and useful to this committee to call in the leaders of these churches. I think that would have a positive effect and I think they could make a great contribution. They want to help not only us, but they want to help Canada. Maybe that is one suggestion that I can make for your consideration.
Chief Sanderson: Mr. Oberle, you were speaking of a balanced report. I do not know if you are aware, but the Canadian Bar Association has been meeting in Banff and has struck a special committee to address the constitutional concerns of the aboriginal peoples. They say they are nonpartisan, they are nonpolitical and so on. I have yet to see a lawyer who is not, but they say they are. What they are doing right now is preparing a document that is trying to come down the centre, identifying some of the legal issues on both sides and political concerns on both sides.
If you are looking for some expert assistance from your own people, to help you clarify it from your own terms and sort of your own institutions, perhaps that is one source. But we will also get our Indian lawyers there to draft it for you.
I have had an opportunity to see it, briefly. It does attempt to do that. There is some more work to be done on it, but Ijust want to make you aware of that committee being in existence.
Mr. Oberle: When I talked about a balanced report, Mr. Chairman, this is a crucial point. I wonder if it would offend you if we went further than that, because we are just now contemplating whom we should bring into the discussions. Would it offend you if we brought in and flushed out some of the bigots and the rednecks in the country, brought them here and allowed them to state their positions, so we know what you are fighting? I hear them all the time, and I suppose you hear them. Would it be wrong to have them here and say look. . .
Chief Ahenakew: It would be disgusting, but it would not offend me.
Mr. Oberle: No, but what would it do . . .
Chief Ahenakew: Sure, why not?
Mr. Oberle: I wonder whether or not you could write into the report, whether you could give it the balance that way. But I am very much afraid that if we make it a one-sided report, regardless of whom we have on our side, be it the churches and the lawyers in the country, until you have heard from the other side. . . I do not know of anybody we could invite, but Mr. Schellenberger and l have talked about this. We would not want to take the risk of losing your confidence and support, but perhaps that is what we should do.
The Chairman: Ijust want to tell you something about that suggestion, Chief Ahenakew. It is amazing how members of this committee can suggest more witnesses and more witnesses and more witnesses, and yet when the clock shows 11.00 p.m. they want to quit. When the weekend comes they want to go to their constituencies. We will hear all the witnesses, but I want a commitment from the members of my committee that they will work from 7.00 a.m. Monday; that we will not quit except for a half-hour break for lunch and go until midnight, and we will work seven days a week. Then I am prepared to consider
hearing all the prejudiced groups and all the heart-on-the sleeve groups, and everybody else in the country.
Right now we are having great difficulty in meeting Roberta Jamieson’s request that we hear bands and we visit reserves. We are having a dreadful time meeting all those obligations, but we are doing our best.
Roberta, you are next after Mr. Burghardt.
Mr. Manly: Mr. Chairman, may I ask another question?
The Chairman: Oh, you are not finished, Mr, Manly. I am sorry. Go ahead, yes.
Mr. Manly: One final question. In your appendix, the proposal for Section 35.(3)(a), you talk about the right to develop and exist as distinct first Nations, including the right to determine the respect of citizenship. I wonder if you could indicate to the committee what protection there would be to ensure that there was equal access to citizenship for both men and women, in this proposal.
Chief Ahenakew: We could have a very snappy, smart answer for that, but in any case, I think more than any other individuals in the world we believe in justice for our people. The bands are very actively, in many areas, working on the whole question of equality, fairness, amongst all their citizens. But I must remind you that there may be instances, over which I have no control. It is entirely their right and their business and their authority to determine citizenship and the manner in which it is applicable and acceptable and justifiable within that nation or within that government. They may discriminate—they may discriminate against the men.
Mr. Manly: Not likely.
Chief Ahenakew: I would not say that. The issue you raise has been kicked around all over the place. I could say I am surprised that governments did not realize that when they created such a deplorable piece of legislation. We would certainly never do that, never, but at the same time there would be conditions, restrictions and so on.
Chief Sanderson: Mr. Chairman, just a couple of points: We would be less than responsible if we did not register the concern that, if the committee is intending to bring in other groups to speak to Indian concerns and Indian issues, first priority would have to be given to members of the Assembly of first Nations to be heard before them, If you have the time, extra time after 11.30 p.m., yes, perhaps you could bring them in. We want to add that qualifier to the discussion that went on just prior to your last question.
Also with respect to your last question, I do not think you have had the opportunity as a committee to get, in depth, in terms of that paragraph, the spirit and intent of it. I think you
have to recognize that there does exist spiritual sovereignty for Indians and that that spiritual sovereignty dictates certain terms and conditions with respect to the membership—men and women—and that has to be respected. If you do not lmdefstafld that. perphaps there should be more evidence provided with respect to the spiritual sovereignty that Indians want to retain. It is much deeper than just political equality.
Mr. Manly: I think there is also a question of spiritual equality, and equality is a spiritual question also in terms of access to basic membership in a community. I come from a spiritual tradition that, for centuries, discriminated against Indian women—against women, period. It is part of that heritage that has been imposed upon many Indian people through Section 12.(1)(b) of the Indian Act. I think we misinterpreted ‘our own spiritual tradition when we discriminated against women. I would simply leave that as a question: any society that feels that it can discriminate against women on the basis of some spiritual tradition should really re- examine their tradition, as I think we have had to do.
Chief Sanderson: I do not see the Pope being a woman.
The Chairman: Thank you, Mr. Manly.
By the way, Sol, I want to thank you for that useful suggestion. I am going to take that before the committee, that those other groups that have been suggested be heard after 1.00 am. I like that very much.
Mr. Burghardt: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I do not know whether I have a question, perhaps just a few comments and observations on what has been said this afternoon.
As you know, I have not been a member of this special subcommittee of our standing committee. Originally it was my intention to be a member, but then I was assigned other duties, which have prevented me from being a member of this committee. Nevertheless, I am a member of the standing committee. I was chairman of our first subcommittee on Indian Women and the Indian Act, and I have tried, to the best of my ability, while this special committee has been sitting to keep in touch with its members and obtain as much information as I have been able to from their hearings to date.
I would like, first of all, Dr. Ahenakew, to commend you for your presentation. It is obviously well researched and detailed. These are areas on which I know you feel strongly. Perhaps, for you, they are nothing new, but I think in all fairness to this committee and to the work of this committee that perhaps some of these suggestions, while they are detailed here and they have been heard before, are still fairly new. I had the feeling at the opening of your statement that there was a feeling of trust between the Assembly of first Nations and, certainly, this committee and perhaps that some of these barriers that had been set up before were beginning to break
down. I know that was my experience as I chaired the first subcommittee. As you know, we did establish a precedent there by having ex-officio members at the table. That was a first. I think that was a big step. I am certainly glad to see that it has been continued here—at least by having one official, or one representative of one of the native people’s organizations present at this table and taking part.
I guess what I am basically saying, Dr. Ahenakew, is that I would hope that you would have the trust of this committee. I, for one, know that they are dedicated to the task at hand. Yet as Mr. Oberle, I believe, earlier said, in that dedication they have to be fair in the report they will write. There could very well be some areas to which you might object, but I think you would have to take that in trust and in respect.
Again, this is a first, really. I think, Mr. Chairman, I am correct that while the Indian Act has been studied before this is the first time you have had a special committee set up in this form and, again, especially with representation from native peoplc’s organizations. I think that, in itself, is a step in the right direction. So I would hope that we are breaking down some of these barriers.
You earlier appealed to individual members of Parliament to speak to their own constituents. I do not know the actions of other members of this committee, but I know that since my involvement I have had the opportunity. Because of my involvement with the first subcommittee, I have been asked to speak to various organizations and groups, not only within my own constituency but across the country. I think as we do more of this we are going to be able, certainly, to help facilitate your cause and also help to eradicate some of the concerns and some of the criticisms that Canadians have levied against native peoples and their organizations.
I know your frustrations, I know how you feel—or at least I think I know how you feel, based on what you have said, but I wonder if you are being a bit presumptuous in some of the things you have said this afternoon regarding a report that might be written by this committee and what the contents might be. Just to emphasize further what the chairman earlier said, this committee is responsible to Parliament—whether you agree with that or not, but I think you understand that process—and does certainly, first of all, have to respond to Parliament. It is to be hoped that the report, because you do have representation at this table, will certainly bear out many of your concerns in a fair and justifiable manner.
I do not know whether you want to comment on what I have said. If you do, I would certainly be pleased to hear it.
Chief Ahenakew: I guess I have also said, Mr. Chairman, that we do not propose to manipulate the minds and the work of this committee. But I think that the barriers have been there for many, many years and that this is where the mistrust comes from. But, more than that, the barriers are still being
created, not by this committee but by other forces within the country and certainly here. That is what I meant by that.
I tell you again that the confidence we have in this committee is demonstrated by the very fact that Roberta Jamieson is sitting here. If we did not, we would pull her out. I do not think I need to say any more.
Mr. Burghardt: Mr. Chairman, on the other aspect—you touched on the matter; in fact you have it here in your presentation—regarding other levels of government, again, whether you agree or not, it is part of the system under which we have to operate, and even the forthcoming first ministers’ conference involves two levels of government, the federal and provincial levels. You state here that
On the question of jurisdiction, I have to challenge two myths: one is that first Nation lands are under federal jurisdiction, and the second is that certain elements fall under provincial jurisdiction. Clearly, first Nation lands are or must be under the jurisdiction and control of first Nation governments. This principle must be recognized and respected by all other governments.
That may be true, and perhaps that is the way it should be, but that is not the way it is. Again, I just emphasize the fact that this perhaps is one area not only this committee will deal with but certainly the first ministers’ conference will deal with. Again, I use the word “presumptuous”, whether you are in fact being presumptuous in some of things which you say. Again, whether you agree or not, there is a system which we as parliamentarians have to follow and hopefully will follow in a just manner.
Chief Ahenakew: Well, we talk about the system and the way it is and what the basic law of the country now demands of the systems, of the governments, but the governments still fail to recognize the first order of government. It still fails to do that.
We are talking about basic and radical changes right down the line, and there are no ifs or buts about that. The other realities that you mention have to be sliced right through. We do not have any choice in that matter any more. We can hide behind, if I can use those words, the present Constitution or legislation; but we continue to spin our wheels, continue to go around in circles, and, as far as I am concerned, Canada and its politicians cannot justify that. No way.
I do not care what they say about democracy, justice and so on. These are matters that will have to be changed, and changed fast.
Again, I just cannot understand why Canadians would reject something like that because they really do not have any business to reject anything.
I do not like using comments like that, but nevertheless, as I say, these are the changes that are required and these are the realities that are going to have to be put in place, and we go from there.
The Chairman: Thank you very much, Jack.
Chief Sanderson: Mr. Chairman.
The Chairman: Sol.
Chief Sanderson: May I get a clarification of your question? You state what exists now, I think if you intend to carry on with what exists it is wrong. The bottom line for Canada- Indian relationships at the moment is small-“l” liberal assimilation and termination policy. If we are to deal with those conditions that are there, that we see daily, that our people live with daily, we have to regain some respectability and some control of our political institutions, our economic institutions, our education institutions, our resources and our lands. We cannot regain that control to the degree that is needed if we only rely on legislation that is constructed by the English or Canadian common law system. There has to be recognized a presence, to a large degree, of Indian law created by Indians.
If you are suggesting that we can find the solutions without addressing that formal concern in that area, then I suggest to you that your position will be, in the final analysis, a continuation of the small-“I” liberal assimilation and termination policy for Indians.
Mr. Burghardt: Mr. Chairman, I will respond briefly to that, and I am glad to clarify that because that certainly is not what I meant by my statements. I was just emphasizing the fact that, the way the system under which even this committee and Parliament have to work is now, the two levels of government have to work in dealing with these concerns. I am not saying that is the way the system will be in the future or that it should be that way in the future. There should be change. I think that is why we are going through this process, and hopefully there will be change to accommodate many of your concerns. So I am certainly not advocating that the system remain the way it is—far from that—but I am saying that is the way it is now and under which we have to operate; that is all. If you are critical of that operation, so be it, but we are governed by that system. But I advocate a change to it, personally.
Chief Sanderson: Not only is the criticism there, but I think our people reflect it daily in their disobedience to what you try to legislate for us and what you try to enforce in our communities and upon us. So, to correct that situation, are you prepared to address this construction of Indian law by Indians in Canada?
Mr. Burghardt: As I was saying, I would certainly advocate a change to what we are going through right now, and hopefully the findings of this committee are going to reflect some of those changes and will be positive in nature and will be able to be carried out. On the other hand, until that happens, we again, whether you agree with it or not, have a system in place under which we have to operate.
Chief Sanderson: Mr. Chairman, I think the committee should be alerted to another process that is in place, and I appeared before it last week in Saskatchewan, unscheduled, unannounced. There is a legislative process in place now with the federal Department of Justice, the Department of the Solicitor General, the Department of Indian Affairs and the Attorney General of Saskatchewan dealing with the whole
area of justice services. When do we stop all these damned processes? We only have so many resource people and so many resources, but we are flooded with all these processes that are in the mill to provide those kinds of solutions, those answers. How do you co-ordinate those yourselves, other than your caucus meetings or whatever you are having? I am feeling some of the frustration that Chief Ahenakew is because we have so many of those processes going on at once that come together at some stage to address more fully what your concern is and what our concern is.
Along with that, I understand that process is to look at the general application of provincial law on reserves. That is not very good faith in terms of what is going on in the constitutional process and this self-government process here, if you intend to have another process that will look at the application of provincial law on reserves.
The Chairman: Sol, I can tell you this: There is no shortage of frustration around. I know you have plenty of it. The members of the committee are also feeling it, so we are sharing that same burden.
I am going to go to Roberta Jamieson next.
Ms Roberta Jamieson: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
First, I would like to formally acknowledge the presentation made here today by the National Chief of the Assembly of first Nations. Sitting here listening to the discussion on trust and mistrust reminds me of a situation a few years ago, where I had an occasion to go to a dinner in the Skyline Hotel. There were about 1,000 Indians there, and we had before us a speaker who was then—and is now—the Prime Minister of the country we know as Canada.
He said to the people there that he was asking Indian people and Indian nations—although he did not use that term; I am paraphrasing and probably taking some liberties—to treat Canada and Canadians much better than they have treated them. I have to say, in listening to the speech and the comments—I think you have all commented—it is obvious to me the national chief and the assembly have taken up that challenge in the manner of their presentation today and in the manner of the dialogue engaged in here today.
On the constitutional question which has justifiably been raised—and my colleagues will recall I have raised this a few times in reading the terms of reference—we must take into account the jurisdiction of the federal government under Section 91.(24) of the Constitution Act, 1867; recognition and affirmation of existing aboriginal and treaty rights of the aboriginal peoples in Section 35 of the Constitution Act; current economic restraint program of the government, and the fact that a first ministers’ conference will be held for the purpose of identifying rights of the aboriginal peoples.
First, I think we have a responsibility under those terms of reference; and I am actively attempting to pursue that responsibility, although I will echo the chairman’s words—he
has been very open with you, as has Jim Manly—as to the stage of our discussions to date. first of all, I am pleased to have the chairman confirm we are going to the conference. The dialogue will continue this week; and as you know, we will be meeting on Thursday. You also know what position I will be taking.
Having said that, I would also like to comment on where I think our responsibilities lie as a committee. I think much has been said about the formal process and I think we do have a formal responsibility to report to Parliament. It is in our terms of reference.
I think we also have a number of other responsibilities, one of which is to educate the Canadian public. Primarily for me—and I dare say, for the committee—another is to the first nations of this country, to reflect their views and to attempt to achieve some fundamental change in Canada-Indian first government relations.
I think many of the witnesses before us have a keen understanding of the way it is in this country; in fact, they express all kinds of frustration with it. The way it is has been created after a legacy of colonialism, and this committee’s challenge is to try to change that.
Having said that, I want to pursue one of the issues the national chief has brought before this committee. Again, he has spoken very openly about the kind of mistrust that is—I think he used this word—rampant. I think it is important to recognize this committee has so far been able to develop a certain amount of trust and integrity; and believe me, they have worked hard at it.
I wonder if you would agree with me that one of the things we should try to avoid is that the mistrust we see out there does not spill over onto this committee and its work, Chief Ahenakew, if we made an interim statement or press release, I wonder if you think that would go far in keeping the committee clean from that taint of mistrust and go a bit further in educating the Canadian public.
Chief Ahenakew: I do not know if I agree with the word “clean”. I do not know what your definition of clean will be. But, certainly, there are lots of questions of me by various people—first nations people and leaders across the country»- about the committee’s work. Not everybody gets information; not everybody understands the information that comes out there, but everybody is so preoccupied with the constitutional matter now.
I think if the committee were to come out in whatever way they want to… Again, I do not want to tell you what you should do; but certainly, a statement would be valuable. A press release is not as effective; but nevertheless, it would clear the air. It would keep you clean. I do not know about the rest of the guys; but anyway, we are concerned about you. I think it would clear some air, yes. I believe it would.
Ms Jamieson: Thank you. I am going to question a few of the other areas that have been touched on in the brief and move a bit away from the constitutional issue, although I think it is foremost in the minds of Indian nations for the next few weeks. but I think it is obvious to me from your presentation that Indian government, the constitution and legislative change all move forward together.
I wonder if you think one of the reasons we are having such a problem in making progress as Indian nations and as Indian government is the fact that Canada has for so many years become accustomed to telling Indians what to do. This is a great obstacle to making the shift—attitudinal shift and shift in action—to relating to first nation governments as equals.
Chief Ahenakew: Even in my position as the national leader of the Indian nations, I am still requested by some bureaucrats— would you believe the guts?—to answer certain questions. They still really believe I have not grown up yet. They still really believe I do not know the systems upon which we live in this country and the manner in which I see changes should be made. They really do not believe we can do it.
I suppose that is not only psychological, but it is attitudes. It is also a belief, innocently perhaps—I suppose in many cases it is—that we cannot manage ourselves, that we really do not know what we want, that we really do not know how we can fit into the system of this country.
The thing they do not seem to understand is: Why do we have to fit in every sense of the word within the systems of these countries? Why can we not be different? After all, that is the policy of this government and Parliament. To be different, it ‘says in the 1969 white paper, is to be strong. It is something like that; I forget now. It has been quite a while since I read it. In any case, I think it is a good example.
Now, Mr. Chairman, I have seen a drastic change within this committee since I last appeared. I recognize and appreciate the fact you are asking intelligent questions, at least in my way of thinking.
Mr. Schellenberger: I have not yet.
Chief Ahenakew: That is gratifying to see. Really. To sense in the people that ask questions, that make comments, that there is sincerity there, that there is understanding there. That isgratifying to me very much and if that could only spread like wildfire, like they had in Australia not too long ago, God, what a great country we would have.
Chief Sanderson: Mr. Chairman, Roberta, I have some difficulty with the phrasing of your question. I have had it for sometime with other members of the committee, in dealing with the same question, not only members of this committee
but also the fundamental positions that will be probably finally adopted on the Constitution, and that is the term “equal”. How do you define that? What I would like to know is where the committee members here and that process is coming from with respect to creating situations where we are, in fact, equal. I do not want to qualify that by saying that we cannot be equal as Indians. I have lived through the situation where I see we have a legitimized form of law and regulations and policies- regulations upon regulations. We are probably the most regulated people in Canadian society. I think it would be misleading to suggest to these people, here in Parliament, that we could create new law or they could create new law that would make us equal, as Canadian citizens, on an individual basis. I qualify that by saying that the only time we will be equal, to some degree, and certainly far from being equals is when we have formal recognition of Indian government and the application of Indian law in this country, then we will have some opportunity to become equal. Until then there will be no equality for Indians.
Ms Jamieson: Just to comment, Mr. Chairman, before I go on to the next question. The members around this table remember a pretty lively discussion we had not too long ago on the issue of equality, as individuals. I share your view on that so I will say no more about it because then I am sure we will enter into another, longer dialogue around this table, knowing the members on equality of individuals, which I have much difficulty applying to Indian people. However, the question related more to equality of first Nations governments as recognized on a government-to-government basis, not as individuals.
Chief Sanderson: Thank you. There is another thing I wanted to add to Chief Ahenakew’s comments about the present day management responsibility. To give you a good example of the frustration that is out there, I had an incident last week when I met with one of the senior civil servants in Saskatchewan and I put it to him this way. I said, “What would you say to taking all those band management officers that are working with the bands on local government and turning those positions into Indian government specialists who listen, who could address more fully the application and implementation of Indian government?” Do you know what his response was? His immediate gut reaction to me was, “But Sol, that means I would have no managers.” That was exactly my point. I do not want his managers managing chiefs and councils and bands. That is why we have them in office. That is why they are elected to office, that is the controlling instrurrient that is used at the local community level now; it is through these so-called band management officers. That is a typical example of what Chief Ahenakew was talking about, and that mentality is there at every level, even this level, that Indians cannot manage.
Ms Jamieson: Thank you. I think that clarification is very useful. I wonder if you would comment on the issue of the equalization payments and constitutional entrenchment. One of our members, who unfortunately is not with us today, Warren Allmand, has raised this in a few of our hearings and has asked witnesses about that, because there is constitutional provision for equalization payments for provinces. I wonder how you feel about that for first Nations governments?
Chief Ahenakew: Well, if that was a constitutional, entrenched provision, then of course we would not have to be asking anybody about our plight, about our requirements and everything else. I think it would do many things, if that type of an arrangement were struck. first of all, we would know absolutely what it is that we can expect from year to year and at the same time we would know what other things we had to do, not only to meet the needs of the people but to develop, to develop ourselves and our resources. At the moment, when the axe comes down and the slicing begins, we are poor already. We are already very, very poor, needy and everything else. We do not share the resources in this country the way we should and must, and therefore we are really at the mercy of the good faith and the good will of a department, which I do not think has ever been there and do not have any reason to expect will be there in the future. So that would certainly eliminate many intermediaries and many problems, entering into that form of arrangement. But that should not be the only one considered. I imagine there are other ways in which this fiscal arrangement could come about and I am just a little tired of having to get a writer and an accountant to develop a proposal for the bands that are in dire straits at the moment. We realize as well as anybody else, as I said earlier, that these are hard economic times. But we have always had hard economic times. So here we are, in the same situation, and the only difference being we are down at the bottom rung; we are still down there. The way, I suppose, to change that—the one way of changing that situation—is by that arrangement. Get into some bold new ventures, take some bold steps and do it. People say it is the political will. I think it is more than just a political will. I think it is a moral obligation. I think spiritually we would feel one heck of a lot better all around, both the non-Indians and the Indians.
Chief Sanderson: Mr. Chairman, with respect to the question of equalization payments, I know that part of your terms of reference is dealing with Canada- Indian fiscal relations. I think to more fully address the concept of equalization payments, we would have to see a restructuring of what exists now, through that formula there, and take a look at what kind of moneys are there that are really Indian moneys. We do have a concern in Saskatchewan that we do not have the proper type of funding formulas that are required for the financing of Indian government. Also, we want to clearly nail down those fiscal obligations of the federal government in
respect to Indians and Indian lands under the Constitution. We do not want the degree of fiscal responsibility for Indians transferred to the provinces. So there is a combination of areas that have to be seriously looked at with respect to arriving at a formula, but certainly we also must address a base level funding formula, a funding arrangement within each of those formulas so that the bands can start April 1 with some guaranteed level of funding. Right now, every April 1 there is not one chief who knows what level of funding he is going to get. Never mind April 1. I do not know if you are aware of it, but some of the bands must have raised it with you. Our fiscal year is probably six years out of the year, compared to your 13 and 15 month years, fiscal years.
Now, we have to be prepared to spend some money to develop the kind of funding formulas that will properly finance Indian government. That has to be done. Ijust cannot see us getting around that . .. and that will also apply to your question on the equalization payments.
Ms Jamieson: I am glad you raised that.
I am only going to ask one more question, Mr. Chairman, because for obvious reasons I would like my colleagues to have full opportunity to question.
I would like to give you, both of you or either of you, an opportunity to answer a couple of things that I hear constantly out and around and I am sure you hear. For the record, and for educational purposes as well, I would like you to answer these two things for me, if you would.
One is that whenever Indian nations or first Nations talk about moving in the direction of the brief presented here today, I hear two things. One, it sure is going to cost a lot of money. I wonder if it is going to cost Canada any more than it spends now; but you can speak to that. Certainly all these agencies are going to cost Canadian taxpayers a whole lot of money. The other thing I hear and I am sure you hear is, boy, if we are going to enter into all those agreements with all those first Nations, it is going to be very difficult; it is going to be unmanageable.
Those are two things I wonder if either of you or both of you would speak to, for the purposes of the record if not for anything else.
Chief Ahenakew: I guess a lot of money is being spent in the Indian communities that is destructive—destructive in the sense that the leaders and their people have no control whatsoever over the money. I think I have said this before, that any time they choose a developmental approach—not only economics—social, spiritual, cultural, and everything else. . . no, you cannot do that; you must spend your money this way.
If the bands choose to go ahead and do the things they want to do in accordance with their people’s direction, you will see them in courts, harassment, delays; you will see everything.
So right now Canada is wasting one hell of a pile of money doing something that could be done a lot better without the encroachments and these mediocre types that go all the way up the line. That in itself is a big waste by government, by having a department of that kind and that competence and so on. It is a big waste. I think that is what Warren Allmand had in mind when he said there is $1.2 billion; what would you do with it if we gave it to you, or if we said, take it? Would you? Of course we would. And I think that is where we would begin: with the department.
Secondly—and this example I am sure can be elaborated a lot more eloquently by Sol Sanderson—in the area of training, the manpower department, transfers are made to continuing education in Saskatchewan which include the Indian nations of that province. And do you think we get the money? Again, that is a transfer payment from the federal coffers to the province which very, very seldom and in a very small percentage gets to the bands.
What was the other question?
Ms Jamieson: The unmanageabilitly of a lot of different arrangements.
Chief Ahenakew: Every band is forced right now to sign an agreement with any department it works with. Not all agreements are the same. Some bands refuse to sign those agreements because they say they are inconsistent with their objectives. So, no money.
There are the tribal council system, the district chiefs council system, and the provincial association system.,That is not to say that these people would create large bureaucracies to handle the administration and finances. That would be done by the bands themselves, which reduces not only the numbers but certainly the costs and the requirements to run a department, which are enormous.
So I think it is a misconception to believe that if these fiscal arrangements were entered into between an Indian government and the federal government it is going to cost a lot more. I say it is going to cost them a lot less. No, I should not say that. It will cost the same. But a dollar will go one heck of a lot further. And if we co-ordinated all those Indian moneys that Sol referred to earlier—that is the reconstruction matter that I was discussing in the paper. Those can be the reconstruction dollars.
The other thing is that Canada does not seem to want to invest in the First Nations in this country. They would much rather, as they say, drain the taxpayers’ dollars by providing
all kinds of social assistance, which is destructive and which every band has been fighting against. It has got to a point now where many bands are saying if you want to administer social assistance, you go ahead, Mr. Department, because we are not carrying out your policies, your guidelines, your everything, and getting killed by our own people; discredited; the bearer of bad news, they say. Any time some new guideline comes in, they have to go back and tell their people. They are the bad guys—not the guys who regulate all these things.
I hear this right throughout the nation: that these things are in fact happening and they will continue to happen.
Chief Sanderson: Just on those comments, the theme that flows through just about everything we want to do, not only as it applies to the Indian political control of Indian government, is it is costing us one hell of a lot of money now to see the non- Indians controlling Indian government as they do. The gross mismanagement that exists with provincial and federal governments now I do not think we will ever match, and we could do no less damage in taking control of some of those moneys. And even if we did mismanage to the degree they have, I do not think we would ever come close to the mismanagement that is there by the present governments, municipal, provincial, and federal.
I just wanted to make that general statement for the record, because non-Indians seem to think they are sacred cows when it comes to management of funds and resources, and we disagree with that.
But to be more practical in responding to your question, I think the Canada-Indian fiscal transfers would be clear. Any moneys appropriated from Parliament would be transferred to the Indian communities first, and if they decided to contract for services elsewhere for anything, whether it was health, education, or otherwise, that they could not deliver through their own institutions, then that would be their right. They will do that. That would eliminate, firstof all, the many administrations that exist through many federal departments and agencies, and provincial departments and agencies. At the moment we do not even have a clue any longer how many agencies and departments, both federally and provincially, are going forward to Treasury Board for funds for us. We could not tell you. We had a tab on it at one stage, where in Saskatchewan we could show that Parliament appropriated $360 million a year for the use and benefit of Indians.
About the other area, the generation of wealth, while we deal with those fiscal transfers that Canada is obligated to to meet its responsibilities for services, under treaty and so on, for Indians, there is the opportunity to create and generate our own wealth to a much larger degree than we are able to at the moment. However, it has to be tied to the recognition that there has to be the development of Indian economies controlled by Indians, business and industry controlled by Indians. Such a
thing exists in Canada: Indians cannot own mega-projects or many mega-projects. That kind of mentality is there.
Now, if we are talking seriously about Indian jurisdiction, certainly the generation of wealth from that will reduce the federal and provincial sources, because if we are talking about Indian Jurisdiction as it applies to tax on resources, that will reduce provincial and federal resources and revenue, but it will increase the revenues available to the bands, directly through their revenues.
As a result of the combination of these things, including the reduction of the administrative cost to Canada, I think we could come out, as Chief Ahenakew said, with certainly equal cost or perhaps less cost. But I think it would be less in terms of the wasted dollar that is there to deal with symptom after symptom, which be reduced considerably, and we would put moneys into the real causes and deal with those questions very directly. It would reduce the level of alcohol frustration that is there. ‘It would reduce the numbers of our people in those penal institutions where it is now costing $28,000 a year, I think. I have not checked for a while, but I think it is averaging $28,000 a year to keep one of our people in a penal institution.
As far as the iinmanageability goes, I think that is a myth. I think we have more municipalities in the Province of Saskatchewan than we have in the whole of Canada, I am not sure. But you have to make proper fiscal arrangements through transfer agreements and so on to municipalities, and they not only benefit from direct transfers of moneys from provincial revenues, they also benefit from fiscal transfers between federal and provincial governments. But if there is 2. development in their area, they are also able to tax that resource and that industry, and they benefit from there as well, even though in a lot of cases that resource is flowing from Indian territory and Indian resources.
So as far as the unmanageability goes, we can qualify it even further in that we have to address, in terms of the designing of the fiscal agreements, some basic principles, and that is about all. Some principles would establish the fiscal relationship, would also establish the goals and objectives for the Indian government developments, but it would also do away with what exists now. We have a so-called accountability system where governments, federally and provincially, are building into their funding arrangements control disguised as accountability. We have to separate those out. We have to be able to address those through general principles and recognize that there will be an Indian administration policy in place for the administration of funds and accounting for funds. But atrthe moment the reason it is unmanageable is because non-Indians are building into the funding arrangements controls through so-called accountability. That is what is causing the frustra-
tion, and it is causing many grievances across Canada with respect to so-called mismanagement.
I hope I have been able to shed some light on some of the practical solutions to your question. You will never really understand them, I suppose, until you take the office of chief and are able to deal with that in more practical terms.
Ms Jamieson: Thank you very much. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I have other questions, but I will stop here.
The Chairman: Thank you, Roberta. Our final questioner is Mr. Sehellenberger.
Mr. Schellenberger: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I very much appreciate the brief. I see some terms there which we have been dealing with, and I am glad to see them in the brief.
I just want to briefly pick up on the last one before we retire, and that is the recommendation that the committee extend its life. I have been personally disappointed, as far as the constitutional hearings are concerned, in the manner the federal government has used its time up until this point. It should have been dealing in a bilateral fashion with the first Nations of this country to discuss the issues, putting them out before the country before we went, because of the requirements of that section to the provinces. There should have been discussion papers, papers of understanding, so that many of these issues we are struggling with, these terms we are struggling with, could have been be put before the Canadian people before we come to this conference in the next couple of weeks, where they will then be flashed across the country and there will be reaction to them.
That has not taken place. I do not know that this committee can do that—obviously we cannot do that before the conference, in my mind. I do not see us being able to meet that kind of deadline now, dealing with those terms, but perhaps we can afterwards.
What I would like from you is perhaps some reaction to timeframes. We talk about these numbers of suggestions, the first Nations fiscal arrangements commission, the community construction agency, the first Nations Development Agency- which I really enjoy because I have been talking about that kind of thing… do you feel that as a committee we could foster those terms, if we agree with them, in our recommendations? Is it our duty to come up with the details, or is it your duty to come up with the details if we recommend that kind of an arrangement? Then as a committee can we go out and deal with each one individually and try to move towards some government legislation which will in fact put them in place, if we can get that kind of dialogue with the Canadian people so that it will be more acceptable and can move quickly? That is a kind of convoluted question, but I am talking about time- frames, how we put some meat on those kinds of institutions we will set up, and whether that is something the committee can be of assistance in, or if we recommend them, that this kind of a thing should come from the first Nations. Who in fact should sit on those kinds of institutions? Should it be strictly people from first Nations or should there be a variety from all ways of life? Those are just some thoughts I have.
Chief Sanderson: I think that flows with some of the questions that were asked earlier about the cost to Canada in terms of the funding arrangements for any new arrangements. We sadly lack our own financial institutions. We have to develop those, as Indians, and it includes the kind of agency proposed there.
Now, as to that agency, we already have a proposal to the Hon. Mr. Lumley, federally, from Saskatchewan. It is strictly related to the Saskatchewan agency. We were over in Europe looking at private funding for some of the economic developments we are speaking of. We were also in New York, like everybody else is doing lately, trying to find private sources for ourdevelopments and the developments of our economies in business and industry. There are agencies and banks prepared to put money into our developments, and at a much cheaper rate than we could find with any bank in Canada at the moment. But we have to be able to provide certain guarantees, for which we need the assistance of the federal government in providing, for the investment of those resources and for proceeding with a lot of those developments.
So certainly I think that the initial design of those institutions should come from Indians, but it cannot be done totally by Indians. It has to.be a joint effort at some stage. But if we are.going to.be serious about improving our conditions as Indians, I think we have to take control of those economic institutions and those Indian economies.
I do not think we should share the decision-making power of the direction of those resources with anybody else for the next few years. Yes, we can have members at large to be on those boards, but very limited participation. You do not give us any votes in your forums or your institutions at the moment, even in the constitutional process, which is one of the major processes for Canada, we do not even have a vote. We have a vote, I guess, in terms of being present, but when it comes to the final decisions, even if it was a vote it would not count.
So in terms of your question, I think we, as Indians, have to have the opportunity to control those institutions at various levels. And like I say, we would, in many cases, be open to members at large with experience in the banking world, with experience in the accounting arenas. But beyond that, I do not think we need to have the institutions designed so that we do not have control over them.
Chief Ahenakew: Just to comment on your question as well. I believe the presentations that have been made by various Indian governments throughout the country have stated very clearly the need for change, the need for this committee to come forward with good, solid recommendations based on certain principles, and that it support those matters as best it can within their own caucuses and within their own constituencies. I think that needs to continue to happen.
But as for the details, I think we can continue to feed you as detailed information as we can at this particular moment in
our development so that you can keep feeding that; that you can continue to learn by it and can continue to enhance your knowledge in those areas that we are pressing forward with. That is what I mean. We will look after the more detailed matters and keep feeding you that. And the way you can help us is by going out there like you have in the past.
Chief Sanderson: Just to give you another example of what is possible. You know the kind of Canadian investment that goes on internationally, not just by individuals but by the banking world. If we had the co-operation for developing these institutions, I could see the time come where, if we did have a financial institution that allowed for tax shelters to non-Indian funds, Canada does not lose that fund completely like it does at the moment, because while we do use it and while the tax shelter is provided for it by us, Canada will eventually get that resource back no matter what happens. Those are realistic possibilities, and they are real possibilities, because I know you fellows are looking daily to get tax shelters and other kinds of opportunities like that. That is not specific to any one party; that is a general concern of the average Canadian citizen and the banking world. So, by providing the tax shelters, why can we not take up the challenge and meet that opportunity so that we can use those moneys.
Mr. Schellenberger: When we talk about Agra-Bonds bonds, we could talk about Indian development bonds, those kinds of things—shelters.
Chief Sanderson: When we get into developing the Indian economy, yes, there would be debentures; there would be all sorts of opportunities for creating and generating that kind of private resource.
Mr. Schellenberger: Well, we are on to the late hour, so I . . .
The Chairman: Okay. Thank you, Mr. Schellenberger. I know there are many other questions. Roberta Jamieson indicated she has questions, and I did not even get started on mine.
Ms Jamieson: I have a solution, Mr. Chairman.
The Chairman: I know. I could read your mind. I want to follow up your solution. I wonder if we brought it up to the committee when we meet on Thursday, and they wanted to pursue further your presentation, would you be available for another meeting? There are three members of our committee who could not be here today. They are very apologetic about that. I know they would like to ask questions. If we knew ahead of time that you would be available for a further examination of this document with you, then I could take that to the committee and tell them that you have agreed, or otherwise.
Chief Ahenakew: Yes. Yes, I do.
The Chairman: All right. Thank you very much, Dr. Ahenakew.
I want to repeat what has already been said so many times, that I think this is a landmark document. There is no question about that, and we appreciate all of the work that has gone
into it. It is going to be one in which there will be many references made as we complete our hearings.
Sol, we will be seeing you in Saskatchewan next week.
Chief Sanderson: Yes, Mr. Chairman.
I just want to say to committee members that my questions are put to you to try to help clarify the issue for many of our people who are following your debates and your proceedings through the minutes. I hope you do not see it as an interrogation of your questions and so on, because it is important at this stage that we get some clarification, not just for our own members of the confederacy but also for our members back home who are following the discussions here.
The Chairman: Right. I understand. Thank you very much, Sol. I look forward to seeing you in Saskatchewan; and, Dr. Ahenakew, thank you again.
Chief Ahenakew: Thank you very much.
The Chairman: The meeting is adjourned until Thursday at 3.30 p.m.
APPENDIX A REVISED (26-1-83) SASKATOON
PROPOSED AMENDMENT TO PART II OF CONSTITUTION ACT 1982
(Adopted in principle by the Confederacy of Nations)
35 (1) The aboriginal title to their lands, aboriginal rights and treaty rights of the aboriginal peoples of Canada. are hereby recognized, affirmed, guaranteed, ratified, sanctioned, and confirmed.
35 (2) In this Act “aborigina1 peoples of Canada” includes the peoples of the various Indian nations and the Inuit and Metis peoples of Canada.
35 (3) The title and rights of the aboriginal Indian peoples of Canada referred to in subsection (1) include but are not limited to:
a) those rights confirmed by the Royal Proclamation of October 7, 1763 particularly aboriginal title to lands throughout Canada;
b) the right of the respective Indian Nations to the collective ownership, possession and control of land and waters (surface and sub-surface) as well as of the airspace thereof and to the natural resources (renewable and non-renewable) therein;
c) the right of the respective Indian nations to the collective ownership, possession and control of their heritage resources;
d) their right to move freely within their traditional lands regardless of territorial, provincial or international boundaries;
e) those rights or freedoms confirmed or acquired by treaties or agreements entered into prior or subsequent to the Constitution Act, 1867 in Canada and those signed outside of Canada which directly affect the aboriginal Indian nations of Canada;
f) those rights or freedoms that may be confirmed or acquired by way of treaties, land claims settlements or other agreements;
g) their right to Indian government including their right to determine their respective forms of government and institutions and to enjoy satisfactory fiscal relationships with other governments;
h) their right to develop and exist as distinct First Nations including the right to determine their respective citizenship; and,
i) their right to exemption from any direct or indirect taxation in respect of real or personal property or of services and from any succession duty, inheritance tax or estate duty, levied by non- Indian governments, non-Indian public authorities or non-Indian public corporations.
35(4) For the purposes of this Act, the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement and the Northeastern Quebec Agreement are treaties.
35(5) a) Parliament and the government of Canada shall be committed to the negociation of treaties and agreements with the aboriginal Indian nations.
b) The parties to such treaties and agreements and to those referred to in subsection (35)(3)(e) shall ratify and implement them without unreasonable delay.
c) The parties thereto shall observe the spirit and intend of the said treaties and agreements; and to ensure such observance, implementation of the said treaties or agreements shall be internationally supervised at the request of the Indian parties thereto.
35(6) Courts or other tribunals of competent jurisdiction shall recognize and enforce the customary law, collective rights and traditions of the aboriginal Indian peoples.
35(7) a) Any amendment to this Part or to Section 91(24) Constitution Act 1867 shall be made only with the consent aboriginal Indian nations so affected.
b) The aboriginal Indian nations The may request an amendment to this Part.
c) Any agreement concluded between the government of Canada and the govrnment of any province purporting to apply to any aboriginal Indian nations shall not have effect where that nation has expressed its dissent thereto by resolution supported by a majority of its citizens.
d) A resolution of dissent made for the purpose of paragraph (c) of this subsection may be revoked at any time before or after the agreement to which it relates enters into force.
35 (8) This Part applies:
a) to the Parliamend and government of Canada in respect of all matters within the authority of the Parliament including all matters relating to the Yukon Territory and Northwest Territories;
b) to the legislature and government of each province in respect of all matters within the authority of the legislature or each province; and Section 38(3) shall not apply to this Part; and
c) to any person.
35 (9) An office shall be established for the protection of the aboriginal title, aboriginal rights and treaty rights of the aboriginal Indian nations.
35 (10) The government of Canada shall be committed to formal bilateral negotiations with the aboriginal Indians nations to review the provisions of this Part and any matters arising therefrom.
OTHER CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT
(1) In section 25 insert the word “title”, in line 3 between the words “aboriginal” and “treaty”.
(2) In section 25 delete paragraph (a) and substitute the following paragraph:
“(a) those rights confirmed by the Royal Proclamation of October 7, 1763 particularly aboriginal titfe to lands throughout Canada”.
(3) In subsection 42(10) delete paragraphs (e) and (f).
(4) In subsection 52(2) insert the following paragraph:
“(b) the Royal Proclamation of October 7, 1763”
and re-letter the existing paragraphs (b) and (c) to (c) and (d) respectively.
THE KEY CONSTITUTIONAL PRINCIPLES OF THE ASSEMBLY OF FIRST NATIONS
1) An on-going process and mechanism must be established to provide for the entrenchment of Aboriginal Title, Treaty, Aboriginal, and other
rights of the Indian people. (Two days are hardly enough time to resolve a century of grievances.)
2) The word “existing” must be deleted from Section 35 of the Constitution Act. (This would return the Constitution’s wording to the wording used before certain provinces asked, without Indian permission, to insert the word “existing” and qualify Indian rights.)
3) Sub-clauses 42 (1) (e) and 42 (1) (f) concerning the extension of existing provincial boundaries and the creation of the new provinces must be deleted from the Constitution Act 1982. (This will remove a very real threat to Indian lands.)
4) There must be provision in the Constitution Act requiring Indian consent to any amendment to the Constitution affecting Aboriginal Title, the Treaty, Aboriginal. and other Constitutional rights of Indian Peoples.
5) There must be a provision in the Constitution Act to allow for Indian initiated amendments on matters directly affecting the Aboriginal Title, Treaty, Aboriginal, and other Constitutional rights of Indian peoples.
6) The inherent aboriginal right of Indians to self-government including the rights to the free determination of forms of Indian government and institutions, including the right to practice their own religions must be entrenched in the Constitution Act.
7) The inherent aboriginal title to lands in Canada must be entrenched in the Constitution Act.
8) There must be an enforcement clause in the Constitution providing for the enforcement of Aboriginal Title, Treaty, Aboriginal and other Constitutional rights entrenched in the Constitution.
9) The rights and freedoms that have been acquired by way of new Treaties, land claim settlements or other Agreements, must be entrenched in the Constitution Act.
From the Assembly of First Nations:
Mr. David Ahenakew, National Chiefs.
From the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations:
Chief Sol Sanderson.