Looking into Canada’s Supreme Court Ruling on Consulting Indigenous Peoples

On October 11, 2018, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the Parliament does not have to consult the First Nations before making laws. Even though PM claims that “reconciliation between indigenous and non-indigenous is the key goal” of the government, this result shows that the goal will not be achieved as easily as he expected. This may provide great advantages for companies over indigenous people when their lands are taken due to the resource exploitation.

 

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This rejection is only a tip of the iceberg. The discrimination still exists, even Justin Trudeau said: “the failure of successive Canadian governments to respect the rights of Indigenous Peoples in Canada is our great shame” at the UN in 2017. Even more hypocritical, in 2007, Canada voted against on the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples carried out by the United Nation General Assembly, is one of only 4 countries out of 148 that voted against. During the last Canada Day celebration, several indigenous groups organized to set teepee (a ceremonial tent) on Parliament Hill to protest the unfair treatment from the government on issues such as property issues, rejection to indigenous children charity programs and appropriation that has existed for 150 years. Properties issues, for example, has been carried out since 1947, have been solved at a relatively slow pace than the development of the economy. From Calder et al. v. Attorney-General of British Columbia in 1973 to R v. Sparrow in 1990, the attitude of the court had changed from making unfair decisions to judge the situation with the support of history and humanity towards indigenous people.

This not only reflected the low efficiency of the government but also their biased ideas on those issues.

Some agreement between the government and indigenous groups are also questionable. It is believed that the groups are being selected by the government, which means that whatever the result may be, it cannot represent the voice of all indigenous people. However, at the same time, the government was propagating its progress in solving those issues, and indigenous people have become tools for canvassing again. These historical outstanding issues are not going to be realized unless the entire country has been taught an objective history lesson.

Apologies can be easily made, but the wounds are never easy to recover. The government should make actual efforts in protecting the human rights of indigenous people because a country with a good human rights situation cannot criticize other countries if it ignores its problems at home.

 

Reference:
https://www.canada.ca/en/canadian-heritage/services/rights-indigenous-peoples.html
https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/tasker-indigenous-rights-consultation-parliament-1.4858321
https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/aboriginal-rights
https://www.ctvnews.ca/politics/supreme-court-rules-ministers-do-not-have-to-consult-first-nations-when-drafting-laws-1.4128842
https://pm.gc.ca/eng/news/2017/09/21/prime-minister-justin-trudeaus-address-72th-session-united-nations-general-assembly
https://scc-csc.lexum.com/scc-csc/scc-csc/en/item/5113/index.do
https://scc-csc.lexum.com/scc-csc/scc-csc/en/item/609/index.do