APRIL 17, 1982

THE CONSTITUTION ACT, 1982 BECOMES EFFECTIVE. AFFIRMS ABORIGINAL TREATY RIGHTS

The Act repatriated the British North America Act, 1867.  Section 35, addressing Aboriginal rights:  (1) recognizes existing aboriginal and treaty rights; (2) defines aboriginal peoples of Canada to include the Indian, Inuit and Métis; (3) defines treaty rights to include rights by land claims existing or that may be acquired; and (4) guarantees rights referred to in (1) equally based on gender.  Federal government also cannot override Aboriginal rights.  Section 35 was not in Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau’s 1980 initial proposal.  Aboriginal Canadians were not consulted and feared an assimilationist policy as in Trudeau’s 1969 “White Paper.”  The “Constitution Express,” led by Arthur Manuel, is often credited with changing the constitution.  Section 35 has been criticized for reinforcing colonialism by making supreme Western concepts of individual rights and private property ownership.  Others, however, argue that it provides Aboriginal peoples with an “institutional means to resist” government infringement of Aboriginal rights. 

Source:  Erik Hanson, “constitution Act, 1982 Section 35,” indigenousfoundations.arts.ubc.ca.  Retrieved 2/2/2020, https://indigenousfoundations.arts.ubc.ca/constitution_act_1982_section_35/
Graphic:  Flag of Canada.  Public domain: May not be copyrighted.

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