Arrival of Strangers - The Last 500 Years


Politics and Law

"No longer beggars in our own lands, we now go forward with dignity, equipped with the confidence that we can make important contributions - social, political and economic - to Canadian society."

- Joseph Gosnell, Sr., Nisga'a Tribal Council President, quoted in Windspeaker newspaper, September, 1998

Since the 1800s, Aboriginal people have organized politically for collective action, and have used different strategies to advance their claims before Canadian and international audiences. The post-Second World War era brought increased social welfare measures to Canadian society, and enhanced legal protection of minority rights. Aboriginal people pressed for the inclusion of Aboriginal perspectives in these national debates.

In the early 1970s, Aboriginal political protest came together in response to government proposals to reform Aboriginal policy. The growing Aboriginal self-government movement emphasized the retention and revitalization of Aboriginal languages and Aboriginal control of Aboriginal education. Challenges from Aboriginal leaders and activists have resulted in closer regulation of financial responsibilities, definitions of Aboriginal title and Aboriginal rights, and the recognition of claims to land. These have advanced our understanding of civic and human rights, and have resulted in a more democratic social fabric and civil society from which all Canadians have benefitted.

La politique indienne du Gouvernement du Canada (Statement of the Government of Canada on Indian Policy), 1969
CMC E 92 C226

In 1969, Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau and his minister of Indian Affairs, Jean Chrétien, introduced major Native policy reform proposals in the so-called White Paper. Native peoples rejected the proposals.
Book: La politique indienne du Gouvernement du Canada
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