WENDAKE, QC, Oct. 7, 2013 /CNW Telbec/ - October 7, 2013 marks the 250th anniversary of the Royal Proclamation of 1763 issued by King George III. This day marks an important moment in Canadian history. "It is a moment that Canadians need to reflect upon and recall that this proclamation was a proposed fair and voluntary land dealing between the British government and Aboriginals but it is also a day of contradiction.", stated AFNQL Chief Ghislain Picard.
For First Nations one of the key highlights of the Royal Proclamation is the acknowledgment of Aboriginal title and that all land would be considered Aboriginal land until ceded by Nations through treaty. The Royal Proclamation is enshrined in Section 25 of the Constitution Act; this section of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees that nothing can terminate or diminish the Aboriginal rights outlined in the Proclamation. We need to celebrate this part of the proclamation but we need to ask the question, is the government of Canada currently maintaining the spirit and intentions of the proclamation?
The downside of this proclamation is that it reserved land for Aboriginal people and ordered non-aboriginal peoples to leave these lands. It respected Aboriginal right to hunt and fish on these lands. The irony of this agreement is that it gave way to British paternalism and the Crown a monopoly on all future land. Aboriginals are considered to be British subjects and not equal and independent nations. The interpretation of the agreement is still debated and has serious constitutional, legal and political implications and must be fully recognized to achieve justice for Aboriginal.
We need to celebrate the positives of this proclamation as it set the foundation for Treaty-making between First Nations and the Crown (Canada), an approach that was to be based on partnership, mutual respect and mutual recognition. This anniversary marks an important opportunity to review the relationship between Aboriginals, Britain and Canada.
"We need to move from colonization to de-colonization and set a new path moving forward based on the principles of recognition and respect, we need to move forward to an era of action and no one government or nation should dictate over another", indicated Chief Ghislain Picard.
About the AFNQL
The Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador is the political organization bringing together 43 chiefs of the First Nations in Quebec and Labrador. www.apnql-afnql.com.
SOURCE: Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador
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