In 'Paradigm Shift,' Trudeau Announces Talks on Indigenous People's Rights

In 'Paradigm Shift,' Trudeau Announces Talks on Indigenous People's Rights

Photo Perry Bellegarde, national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, and Jane Philpott, Canada's minister of indigenous services, at a special assembly meeting in Ottawa past year.

The Prime Minister will announce in the House of Commons on Wednesday afternoon that, 36 years after Section 35 of the Constitution protected aboriginal and treaty rights, government officials will no longer demand that Indigenous people prove those rights exist at the beginning of every legal and claims process.

Yet in the years since, those rights have not been implemented by governments, forcing Indigenous peoples into costly, drawn-out court battles, Trudeau said.

"Going forward, recognition of rights will guide all government relations with Indigenous peoples", he said.

At the heart of his pledge is a vow to create a "recognition and implementation of (an) Indigenous rights framework" that will include new ways to recognize and implement such rights.

The framework would be implemented through a series of measures, including legislation, but it's not clear when that would be formally introduced. While pressure from aboriginal groups and their supporters reversed that stance - and the Constitution does enshrine the rights of Indigenous people - the younger Mr. Trudeau acknowledged that there had been widespread disappointment about the effectiveness of the protections.

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"The denial of Indigenous peoples rights continued under this government despite their promise for real change", said Saganash, the party's critic for reconciliation and himself a Cree from northern Quebec.

Canada has not enjoyed "sustained or significant" progress in that section's implementation to date, he told Parliamentarians on Wednesday, and the country has a responsibility "to do better, to be better".

A number of visibly Indigenous people were excluded without cause from the jury that last week acquitted Saskatchewan farmer Gerald Stanley, 56, in the shooting death of Boushie, 22, a member of the Red Pheasant First Nation.

Trudeau hopes this changes the relationship between governments and Indigenous communities from conflict to collaboration.

"Reforms are needed to ensure that - among other things - Indigenous Peoples might once again have confidence in a system that has failed them all too often in the past".

Trudeau also said at the time that the Liberal government was taking steps to move beyond the Indian Act, which was passed in 1876 and has been widely criticized by Indigenous leaders _ and Trudeau, too _ as colonial and paternalistic. "What we can do, what we must do is to commit to being better, to doing better".

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