A history of missteps [policy re: First Nations]
TheStar.com – news/investigations/government – Broken Peoples Broken Policy A Star Investigation: Status Indians are falling further behind other Canadians in quality of life. The Star investigates the gap, which continues to grow along with the federal bureaucracy focused on Indian issues
Published On Sat Oct 30 2010. Brett Popplewell, Staff Reporter
1763: Great Britain and its native allies defeat France and its native allies in the Seven Years’ War. The Royal Proclamation of 1763 creates the first “Indian reserves” in Canada, guaranteeing lands that cannot be opened to settlers.
1876: Parliament passes the Indian Act. A report that year explains the act’s purpose: “The aborigines are to be kept in a condition of tutelage and treated as wards or children of the State. Every effort should be made to aid the Red man in lifting himself out of his condition of tutelage and dependence, and that is clearly our wisdom and our duty . . . to prepare him for a higher civilization.”
1920: Duncan Campbell Scott, deputy superintendent of the Indian department from 1913 to 1932, proposes amendments to the Indian Act. “I want to get rid of the Indian problem,” he says. “Our objective is to continue until there is not a single Indian in Canada that has not been absorbed into the body politic . . . ”
1925-1951: The government forbids Indians from forming their own political groups. It also bans powwows, sweat lodges and sun dances. The ban is not lifted until 1951.
1940s: Inspired by what it has read about Canada’s Indian Act and its legal classification of “status Indians,” the South African government examines Canada’s Indian reserve system and later models elements of apartheid after the Canadian system.
1946-1948: In order to sign on to the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Ottawa lifts bans on traditions such as potlatchs and powwows, as is the prohibition on alcohol on reserves.
1960: Indians are given voting rights.
1969: Pierre Trudeau sets his agenda for a just society. His minister of Indian Affairs, Jean Chrétien, drafts the “White Paper.” Its purpose is to make everyone equal under the law by abolishing Indian status, Indian reserves, Indian treaties, the Indian Department and the Indian Act. Indian chiefs across the country respond with “The Red Paper.” The status quo is maintained. Indian status is protected.
1990: The Mohawks of Kanesatake barricade the roads leading into their reserve just south of Montreal after the local government approves construction of a golf course on Mohawk burial grounds. The Oka Crisis, as it comes to be known, highlights divisions between native and non-native Canada and triggers the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples to investigate the causes of the crisis — but few of its 1996 recommendations are adopted.
2005: The Martin government signs the Kelowna Accord, promising $5.1 billion in funding to combat poverty on reserves by improving health care, housing, water treatment, education and economic development. The agreement is not honoured by the Harper government.
2007: The Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples passes in the United Nations General Assembly, with 144 countries voting in its favour. Partly because of land disputes, Canada votes against the declaration, which sets out human rights standards for indigenous populations around the world.
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