Federal-Provincial Meeting of Ministers on Aboriginal Constitutional Matters, Northwest Territories Notes for Address to Constitutional Ministers’ Conference on Aboriginal Rights – Hon. G. Braden (31 January-1 February 1983)

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Date: 1983-01-31
By: G. Braden
Citation: Federal-Provincial Meeting of Ministers on Aboriginal Constitutional Matters, Northwest Territories Notes for Address to Constitutional Ministers’ Conference on Aboriginal Rights – Hon. G. Braden, Minister of Justice and Public Services, Government of the Northwest Territories, Doc 830-120/013 (Ottawa: 31 January-1 February 1983).
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DOCUMENT: 830-120/013


Notes for Address to Constitutional Ministers
Conference on Aboriginal Rights — Hon. G. Braden
Minister of Justice and Public Services, Govern-
ment of the Northwest Territories

January 31 –
February 1, 1983

Mr. Chairman, Ministers and representatives of national, provincial
and territorial native organizations, thank you for the opportunity
to make a few brief remarks on the matter of aboriginal rights and
how they are refLected in law, policy or programs in Canada.

Initially, I want to express on behalf of our government and
legislature, sincere appreciation for the opportunity to participate
in this significant forum. I am confident you will find our input
useful and representative of a unique region of Canada — a region
which my government feels should Be represented at all federal-
provincial forums on matters dealing with national policy. We take
a major step to this objective by participating at the first Ministers
Conference in March.

Mr. Chairman, I am pleased with the work that has been produced thus
far by officials of government and native organizations. The agenda
before us is representative of many of the issues and concerns facing
the aboriginal citizens of Canada. As a representative of a junior
member government in Confederation, I find all of the agenda items
common to the Northwest Territories. After all, the majority of our
population are aboriginal Canadians or Northerners of aboriginal descent
The majority of the members on our Legislature are Dene, Inuit or Metis
Four territorial native organizations are currently engaged in
aboriginal rights and land claims negotiations which virtually cover
the whole N.W.T. and that’s 2.5 million square miles of land and water
Very simply, Mr. Chairman, the N.W.T. is in a unique position in Canada
whereby addressing aboriginal issues is less a metter of developing
special programs for a minority. Rather, aboriginal issues are more
and more being embodied in the northern approach to its cultural,
social, economic and political evolution.

By way of example, issues such as a charter of rights for aboriginal
people, entrenchment of aboriginal title and consent, which are
being addressed now at the national level, are also being addressed
at the territorial level by native organizations and the federal
and territorial governments. Self government and guaranteed repre-
sentation in a legislature are currently being addressed through
a variety of northern forums representative of northern residents
of all ethnic and racial backgrounds. During the past decade, both
the federal and territorial governments have attempted to coordinate
service delivery and more important, laws and programs which recognize
aboriginal family law and the need to develop, preserve and implement
aboriginal languages and culture are in place. Finally, through
government programs and claims negotiation, we are seeking ways and
means for harvesting and management regimes involving hunting, trapping
and fishing of northern renewable resources.

Mr. Chairman, while Northerners have a great deal to work out in the
future, I believe we are trying to achieve our objectives through a
cooperative and consensus oriented effort on the part of native people,
and governments at the federal, territorial and local levels.

Mr. Chairman, while there may be certain issues which are contentious
and require further thought, I and my colleagues are sincere about
seeing progress made at this meeting and the upcoming constitutional
conference first ministers meeting. In an effort to catagorize the
sixteen issues raised at the officials meeting I would suggest that
some, such as the charter of rights for aboriginal people have already
been agreed to in principle by Canada’s first ministers. Our task
could be to ensure that sufficient direction and consensus can be
developed in order that our officials can produce options for us to

A second category deals with The matter of process. I urge all here
today, whether they represent government or aboriginal Canadians to
establish a meaningful ongoing process to which we can all be

Finally, we must turn our attention to substance; that is, the
defining of aboriginal rights and the means for protecting these
rights through law, programs or policies of government, and
initiatives by aboriginal Canadians and their organizations. From
a territorial perspective we would recommend four substantive items.
They include

(a) language and culture
(bl hunting, fishing and trapping rights with an emphasis
on harvesting and the role of aboriginal Canadians in
resource management.
(c) consent on changes to the constitution and the relation-
ship of this issue to guaranteed participation of aboriginal
Canadians in our legislatures, and of major importance to
the aboriginal people of the N.W.T.,
(d) the repeal of Section 42(1)(e) and (F) of the Canadian
Constitution. These two provisions provide for the ex-
tension of provincial boundaries into the N.W.T. and the
creation of any new provincial jurisdictions being subject
to the Section 43 amending formula.

Mr. Chairman, thank you for hearing the views of the N.W.T. Government
I am joined by my colleagues Mr. Wah-Shee and Mr. Patterson who have
specific responsibilities in the aboriginal rights area. Finally, I
am pleased to see your colleague, the Hon. John Munro, Minister of
Indian Affairs and Northern Development. John and his department have
worked hard with us during the past three years to achieve demonstrable
progress in the North. I also see Senator Jack Austin who is playing
a major role in our constitutional evolution, and many aboriginal leaders
and provincial ministers I have come to know in the past three years.

I look forward to a productive two days on this subject of national

Thank you.

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