Alex Sangha: It's time for Canada to treat Indigenous peoples as equal partners in our federation

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      The federal Liberal website states: “It is time for Canada to have a renewed, nation-to-nation relationship with Indigenous Peoples, based on recognition, rights, respect, co-operation, and partnership.”  

      This newfound love for the Indigenous Peoples of Canada is no accident. 

      The Canadian Encyclopedia states: “With regard to [Indigenous rights], the [Royal Proclamation of 1763] states explicitly that [Indigenous people] reserved all lands not ceded by or purchased from them."

      Furthermore, “the proclamation is referenced in section 25 of the Constitution Act, 1982. This provision dictates that nothing in Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms diminishes [Indigenous peoples’] rights as expressed in the Royal Proclamation.” 

      It is time, therefore, for Canada to treat Indigenous peoples as equal partners in our federation.

      The Indigenous People are one of the three founding nations of this country, along with the British and French. The Europeans could not even survive the harsh winters if it were not for our Indigenous ancestors.

      So what does a nation-to-nation relationship look like?

      At the very least, the Indigenous People of Canada should have the same rights as the French Canadians or Québécois.

      For instance, why do the French Canadians via Quebec have guaranteed representation in the House of Commons, Senate, and Supreme Court and the Indigenous peoples do not? 

      Why is French an official language yet not one Indigneous language benefits from this same protection?

      The Québécois are also well represented through the provincial legislature in Quebec City and have control over much of their day-to-day affairs. There is no Indigenous Parliament or equivalent in Canada besides the government of Nunavut for the Inuit.

      How then can the Liberal party state that it wishes to treat the Indigenous people on an equal nation-to-nation basis when the Indigenous people have little or no voice within our current political or judicial institutions? They have been effectively silenced.

      This is a double standard!

      Some Indigenous people have a status card and are living on isolated and neglected reserves, in exchange for all the wealth and resources that is Canada. 

      Seems like an amazing deal for the government of Canada, and yet many Canadians, such as Sen. Lynn Beyak, still hold discriminatory attitudes toward the Indigenous people.

      It’s in Canada’s best interests to reconcile with the Indigenous peoples of Canada sooner rather than later to avoid a legal, political, economic, and financial mess for our future generations.

      Alex Sangha is an award winning social worker and author based in Surrey. For more information, visit his website

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