Aboriginal and Treaty Rights in Canada’s Constitution
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Aboriginal and Treaty Rights in Canada’s Constitution

August 28, 2019

– The Canadian Constitution,
it’s the highest law in the country. But for over 100 years
it didn’t belong to Canada. It belonged to Britain, meaning
Canada needed permission from Britain to make any changes. So, in the late 1970s
the Canadian government took steps to have it brought home. Since the Constitution affects how Canada is governed,
all the provinces became involved in negotiations. This complex process took years. First Nations, Metis and
Inuit wanted to make sure their Aboriginal and Treaty Rights were recognized in the Constitution. This wasn’t an easy task. To achieve their goal, they
took action in different ways… both nationally and internationally. One idea came from George Manuel, a First Nations leader
from British Columbia. He knew that to get the
attention of Parliament the people would have to reach members of Parliament directly. By working with various
First Nations groups, he rented two trains to bring concerned citizens from
Vancouver to Ottawa. He called it the Constitution Express. As the trains gained
momentum so did the movement. With over 1,000 people now onboard, the trains finally arrived. By then, with attention
gained from the media, the whole country was listening. Public support grew, the call to affirm
Aboriginal and Treaty Rights was heard loud and
clear among politicians. The Constitution Express was one of the many actions taking place. First Nations, Metis and Inuit groups were also forming alliances, meeting with decision makers, making written submissions and building public
support around the world. Aboriginal and Treaty Rights were confirmed
in the Constitution in 1982… thanks to people who
spoke up and took action to inspire the change they wanted to see.

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