Assignment: 1 Aboriginal Self Government Aboriginal self-government is a long standing issue that continues to be a struggle for the First Nations People. To truly understand the scope of Aboriginal self-government within First Nations communities, more effort is needed to understand the legislative system that runs Canada. This issue of self-governance has been very destructive in First Nations communities. After signing the Treaties, First Nations People was stripped of their livelihood and from that point on to abide by the Dominion of Canadas legislative policies.
One current issue that would be a perfect example is the Nisga People in British Columbia who is no longer under the protection of the Indian Act. The Nisga People are on self-government ideologies however their government still needs to follow foreign rules and regulations not of their own making. It is not my intention to be on the other side of the fence for what they have fought so hard for but when looking closely I would be not in favour of Aboriginal self-government because First Nations People can not truly gain self-government due to the federal and provincial laws that keep them from being a true democracy.
First Nations People have been divided and subdued to a foreign form of governance that has trapped them to live by foreign rules and regulations. The systematic destruction of Aboriginal customs has been hammered out by the making of the Royal Proclamation of 1763. First Nations People have been forced to adapt to the policies and cultural customs that have slowly stripped them from their own traditional form of governance. First Nations People had to deal with policies known as the Numbered Treaties dating from 1871 to 1876, which forced them to surrender their traditional lands and adapt to European political customs.
This form of treaty making can be seen as the final chapter on assimilating First Nations People. It was within these Treaties that First Nations People had lost traditional lifestyle they have lived for decades what was worse they lost their identity as they were seen as the “white man’s burden”. The Dominion of Canada had the power to enforce crucial implements of European customs that abolished political First Nation influence they carried for each other as they were subdued to live on little parcels of land that at times were far to small for a tribe.
The First Nations people had lost their right to practice spiritual traditions that enabled them to govern their people before confederation. These regulated that were set out by the federal and provincial government stem from the former Acts that have created Canada. A major influential aspect of the change was created from the outcome of the Constitution Act of 1867. The Dominion of Canada enshrined the Treaties and acknowledged that First Nations affairs would be federal responsibility. Not only did First Nations have no say in where their reserve creation but were not given a say to where their reserves were allocated.
First Nation People were to remain under federal jurisdiction while Canada grew stronger as a country leaving them to live by “Chief Commissioner Sir Charles Bagot (1781-1843)”, who directed administration regarding First Nation affairs. Through these foreign rules, First Nations People have lost their way of being part of Chiefdoms by the inability of self-government. As Dickason explains the power and control many of these Chiefs carried having multiple leaders within one tribe each having their own quality of a certain area such as a hunter, peace maker or one to speak on behave of the group as an equalitarian society.
This idea of Chiefdoms would be the final view of true Aboriginal self-government that a nation could achieve, since signing of the Numbered Treaties is the last of actual Chiefdoms in action. This way of political thinking has long changed. Today looking back on these policies that created have captured the true idea of Aboriginal self-government which has long faded. In modern day society First Nations reserves remain under the creation of the Indian Act of 1867. This enables the federal government to assume full responsibility over the entire First Nations population.
In A People’s Dream Aboriginal Self-Government in Canada, by Dan Russell, 2000, he brings up issues about the federal government making policies that have direct affect on First Nations People and they have no knowledge or say of what happens regarding decision about their people. The federal government has a great deal of power that will ultimately alter how First Nations are dealt with. Dan Russell discuses both the Meech Lake Accord and the Charlotte Town Accord that would have had a major impact on how “Indians” were handled he states “Canadian history and laws, since shortly after initial contact with Europeans settlers, have imited the possibilities of easily exercising Aboriginal self-government in Canada”. Once the first wave of settles arrived in North America, the Dominion of Canada created the power to control how settlers and resources were handled which left them also having to deal with the original inhabitants by means isolation in reserves. To look back into history even in the earliest stages of civilization First Nations People were only “interpreters and clerks, but none at the policy-making level”, in order to create change they need to be where these policies are being made.
In making these policies and procedures there has been little to no input from First Nations or their leaders. There is an important case to view which is the Nisgas Nation and their take on self-government. In Daniel Raunet’s book Without surrender without consent 1996, he looks closely at how the provincial and federal legislation combined at the time took control of the area without notification to the First Nations People who occupied the area. To maintain a level of self-governance the Nisga people will have to be in the politician spear of politics.
The House of Commons where the bill are passed is where the mist influential of self-government truly lies. In order to change policies is to understand that it is not just the community one is from but the nation as a whole that can create positive change that will help maintain a level of governance of First Nations People. Not to say that what happened to their people and the stripping of their land, they in turn did get a parcel that was debated by the Supreme Court of Canada.
This political presence known as the constitution hold the power to change policies that will affect how self-government is maintained. In order to gain self-government there needs be to change within the policies that run Canada and understand how the legislative system is very important when dealing with the issue of self-government. This constitution Act not only governs Canada but the First Nations Peoples also. The hard fought journey of self-government seems like a long lived battle that will never be solved or won.
In the turn of events to follow the Nisga people have control of their community polices but have yet to fully gain Aboriginal self-government because when to really understand how they run their community they still abide by the federal regulations. The regulations that bind them to Canada will not allow for a new democratic state which ultimately is Aboriginal self-government. Through the indulgence of the idea of sefl-government I find that while making the laws that govern the nation the Nisga People are under legislative regulations. By not having the protection of the Indian Act merely entitles them to utilize their own resources.
They have no power to create their own judicial laws enforcing punishment that their people that have done criminal offences. First Nations People no matter if they are no longer under the Indian Act there are still political influences that have the power to alter First Nation communities. All Canadians are held together by the Constitution Act that created the authority of policy making and by attaining a place within the federal government there can be no true form of Aboriginal self-government because we live by federal policies that bind us as a nation.
We are all governed by one law, the constitution, and that most fundamental of laws states that existing Aboriginal rights are recognized and affirmed yet have to follow the Constitution. Through-out the historical struggles that First Nations People have faced they still remain with diversity that has set them apart from traditional forms of pre-historic ways of self-government. As Andrew states “Aboriginal policy as a policy type, and as a concept, is a legacy of colonization. This legacy can be seen in the continuation of policies and attitudes that were introduced when the European colonial expansion was taking place.
This legacy remains today”. This not only affirms my beliefs but supports the views I carry on Aboriginal self-government. First Nations People have a hard fight in future events and need to have a voice in the parliamentary system, until then there can be change to governance. Work Cited Armitage, Andrew. “Comparing Aboriginal Policies: The Colonial Legacy” Aboriginal Self-Government in Canada. Saskatoon, Saskatchewan: Purich Publishing Ltd, 1999. Harris, Cole. “Ideology and Land Policy, 1864-71” Making Native Space: Colonialism, Resistance, and Reserves in Bristish Columbia.
Vancouver, British Columbia: UBC Press, 2002. Dickason, Patricia. A Concise History of Canada’s First Nations. Canada: Oxford University Press, 2006. Morse, Bradford. Edited by Hylton H. John. “The Inherent Right Of Aboriginal Governance” Aboriginal Self-Government in Canada. Saskatoon, Saskatchewan: Purich Publishing LTD, 1999. Raunet, Daniel. Without Surrender Without Consent. Vancouver, British Columbia: Douglas & McIntyre, 1946, new addition 1996. Russell, Dan. A People’s Dream Aboriginal Self-Government in Canada.
Vancouver, British Columbia: UBC Press, 2000. ———————–  Patricia Dickason, A concise history of Canada First Nations, (Canada: Oxford University Press (2006). Pg 171.  Patricia Dickason, A concise history of Canada First Nations, (Canada: Oxford University Press (2006). Pg 154.  Patricia Dickason, A concise history of Canada First Nations, (Canada: Oxford University Press (2006). Pg 126.  Dan Russell, A People’s Dream Aboriginal Self-Government in Canada, (Vancouver, British Columbia: UBC Press, 2000). Pg 9. 5] Dan Russell, A People’s Dream Aboriginal Self-Government in Canada, (Vancouver, British Columbia: UBC Press, 2000). Pg 11.  Patricia Dickason, A concise history of Canada First Nations, (Canada: Oxford University Press (2006). Pg 136.  Daniel Raunet, Without Surrender Without Consent, (Vancouver, British Columbia: Douglas & McIntyre, 1946, new addition 1996). Pg 76.  Andrew Armitage, “Comparing Aboriginal Policies: The Colonial Legacy” Aboriginal Self-Government in Canada. (Saskatoon, Saskatchewan: Purich Publishing Ltd, 1999), pg 61-77.