Principle 5: Treaties, agreements & other constructive arrangements

This article is part of a series analyzing the Canadian Federal Government’s “10 Principles respecting the relationship with Indigenous peoples”. Click here to start over at the beginning.)

Principle 5 Reads:

Treaties, agreements, and other constructive arrangements between Indigenous peoples and the Crown have been and are intended to be acts of reconciliation based on mutual recognition and respect.

Has Canada met treaty obligations?

So far in the history of the Crown’s relationship with Indigenous peoples how well has it done in actually meeting treaty agreements? Many would argue that Canada has operated with the intention of assimilation and disenfranchisement rather than reconciliation based on mutual recognition and respect.

Perhaps the best place to look to answer this question is Canada’s courts. It has been the courts in Canada that have listened to Indigenous perspectives on the Crown’s performance with its relationship with Indigenous peoples, evaluating recognition and respect. There are still numerous court cases being brought forward by First Nations against the Crown, and companies the Crown has “handed over” its duty to consult to bringing to question the sincerity of Principle 5.

Reconciling Disenfranchisement and Assimilation

One can easily argue that disenfranchisement and assimilation policies under the Indian Act are explicit failures at respect and recognition. The Crown has historically implemented policy such as reservations, residential schools, and Indian status that have been aimed not at respect and recognition, but assimilation and disenfranchisement of Indigenous peoples.

Do the prevailing beliefs within the Canadian public reinforce this history of assimilation and disenfranchisement? How do we reconcile this persistent misunderstanding of the legal status of Indigenous nations in Canada?

Recognition and Respect for Indigenous Nations

In 2017 and beyond how does Canada demonstrate respect and recognition for Indigenous peoples and the distinct nations that they represent? Will this be through new treaty agreements in the unceded territories in B.C.? Will respect and recognition be reflected in how INAC administrates?

What are your thoughts?

Respect and recognition are active conversations. What do you think about Principle 5?

Can Canada reconcile its history of assimilation policy and active disenfranchisement of Indigenous peoples? What does this look like?

Your voice is a crucial component of a post-colonial Canada. Tell us what you think.