Friday, June 30, 2017

Why I'm celebrating Canada150 tomorrow

Have a Tic Tac, at least
1.  Because my parents brought my brothers and me to this country when we were too young to have done it for ourselves. Tomorrow I'll consider my gratitude to them and to the country.

2.  Because to our most pressing moral and political obligation, the constitution that came into force a hundred and fifty years ago is not the problem, it is the solution.

The politicians who shaped the British North America Act, 1867, assumed they were entitled to pass the Indian Act, develop the residential schools system, and cause death and dispossession across the prairies (and elsewhere). They assumed the indigenous peoples were to be assimilated entirely or become extinct, and they were comfortable with either or both.

But they did not constitutionalize those assumptions. The one line in the 1867 constitution concerning First Nations, (s.91.24, "Indians, and lands relating to the Indians") in fact binds Canada into the pre-existing treaty relationship. The constitution establishes that relations between the new nation and the First Nations must be negotiated through treaty discussions between independent partners.

The problem is not the constitution. It's Canadians. When Canadian accept the treaty obligation in the constitution, and the treaty relationship in general, that is when Reconciliation truly starts. July 2, 2017 would not be too soon.

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