Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is promising a fundamental rethink of how the federal government recognizes Indigenous rights and title, vowing to work with Indigenous partners to develop a new legal framework to foster self-governance.
In a 15-minute speech in the House of Commons that was short on concrete details, Trudeau said he wants to give new life to Section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982, which recognizes and affirms Aboriginal and treaty rights.
Trudeau said governments have ignored these rights entirely for too long, leaving it up to the courts to define them one decision at a time.
“Instead of outright recognizing and affirming Indigenous rights, as we promised we would, Indigenous Peoples were forced to prove, time and time again, through costly and drawn-out court challenges, that their rights existed, must be recognized and implemented,” Trudeau said.
Generally, Aboriginal rights have been interpreted to include a range of cultural, social, political and economic rights, including the right to land, to fish and hunt, to practice their own cultures and to establish treaties.
‘We need to get to a place where Indigenous peoples are in control of their own destiny.’
– Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
Trudeau said a rethink of Aboriginal rights will allow Indigenous peoples to pursue greater self-determination, with the ultimate goal of addressing entrenched economic and social problems in Indigenous communities.
“We need to get to a place where Indigenous peoples in Canada are in control of their own destiny, making their own decisions about their future,” Trudeau said.
To that end, the prime minister said his government will develop a new “recognition and implementation of Indigenous rights framework” through consultation with Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians.
“This framework gives us the opportunity…