SOAN 2290 Chapter Notes - Chapter 7: White Paper, Eurocentrism, Patrilineality
SchoolUniversity of Guelph
DepartmentSociology and Anthropology
Course CodeSOAN 2290
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Chapter 7: Fleras
Chapter 7: Aboriginal Peoples in Canada
•Aboriginal (peoples) Rights- The entitlements that aboriginal peoples possess by virtue of their
original occupancy of the land. These rights are unique to aboriginal peoples; secure the basis for
rewards, recognition, and relationships and include the right to aboriginal models of self-
determining autonomy over jurisdictions relating to land, identity and political voice.
•Aboriginal peoples- Aboriginal peoples represent the descendants of the original indigenous
occupants of Canada who have been colonized and forcibly incorporated into Canadian Society,
but now want to get out of this arrangement by redefining their relational status in society.
•Aboriginal Self Government- Aboriginal peoples claim that as fundamentally autonomous political
communities they have the right to govern themselves in ways that reflect their realities, reinforce
their experiences and advance their interests.
•Aboriginal title- A constitutional recognition that Aboriginal peoples continue to own their own land
and resources that they have occupied continuously for centuries. The crown cannot encroach
upon lands that have not been lawfully surrendered without meaningful consultation, negotiation,
consent, and compensation
•Aboriginality- used in a descriptive sense aboriginality (being aboriginal) describers the principle by
which shared awareness of original occupancy provides basis for entitlements and recognition. In
a political sense, the politicization of being “aboriginal” involves the politics of transforming
change- not only in challenging the legitimacy of the sovereign state as the paramount authority,
but also in advancing innovative patterns of belonging that embody the post-colonial notion of
Aboriginal Peoples as the “nations within”.
•Comprehensive Land Claims- A modern day equivalent of 19th century treaty agreements in which
the crown acquired certainty of ownership over large blocks of aboriginal land. In return
Aboriginal communities received rights to smaller sections of land, allocation of services, money,
goods and access to crown land resources. Newer treaties tend to include protocols for
establishing aboriginal self-governing arrangements as well as rights to co-manage arrangements
and revenue sharing from resource extraction.
•Conditional Autonomy- The current phase in the evolving policy relationship between aboriginal
peoples and Canada’s central authorities (crown). Unlike previous phases that emphasized the
elimination of things aboriginal, a commitment to conditional autonomy acknowledges the rights
of aboriginal peoples as nations within, with a collective right to self-determining autonomy (with
limits and strings attached) over land, identity and political voice.
•Constitutional Order- A tacitly assumed framework for the principle distribution of power in society,
Those foundational principles that govern the social, political and economic order of society
operate at relatively high levels of generality and often are beyond examination or criticism.
•Constructive Engagement- A new (postcolonial) social contract for redefining the relationship of
aboriginal peoples to society at large. Constructive engagement is premised on the notion of
Aboriginal peoples as fundamentally autonomous political communities who are sovereign in
their own right while sharing sovereignty over society.
•Devolution- The practice of transferring responsibilities and structures to the local level on the
assumption that those closest to the community have a better grasp of the local concerns than to
remote bureaucrats. Devolution does not necessarily involve the transfer of power but often entails
the offloading of administrative duties to periphery.
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•Governance- The relationship between the ruled and the rulers in terms of how authority is divided,
power is distributed and valued resources are allocated within a particular jurisdiction. The term
is not synonymous with government, which refers to specific forms of this relationship.
•Nations Within- A term normally employed to describe Aboriginal ambitions for self-determination
in Canada. The Nations within Concept acknowledges the relative autonomy of aboriginal peoples
but does not advocate outright secession or independence.
•Postcolonial social contract-A proposed restructuring of aboriginal peoples-state relations that reject
the colonial assumptions of the past in favor of a new constitutional arrangement involving the
foundational principles of partnership, power sharing, radical participation and a commitment to
respect, recognition and restoration.
•Self-determining autonomy- AS fundamentally autonomous political communities that are sovereign
and share sovereignty over the land, aboriginal peoples claim to have inherent and collective
rights to aboriginal models for controlling jurisdictions of immediate concern related to land,
identity and political voice. Self-determining autonomy is not the same as independence but
involves a commitment to restructure the foundational principles of constitutional order along the
lines of a new postcolonial social contract.
•Self-government- A term that is usually employed within the context of aboriginal demands for
aboriginal models of self-determining autonomy. Aboriginal peoples claim self-government
provided the political expression of their demands for control over internal affairs.
•Specific treaty claims- Refers to the righting of historical wrongs because of crown breaches of
existing treaty provisions.
•Treaties-Transactions between the crown and aboriginal peoples involving and exchange of rights,
duties, and obligations. Treaties of alliance and friendship exist, but most treaties involve a
transaction in which aboriginal peoples surrender large tracts of land in exchange for goods and
services in perpetuity, and rights of use of unoccupied or underused Crown land.
•White paper- Bill tabled by the liberal government in 1969 to abolish Aboriginal peoples as a
distinct status group in Canada, the bill proposed to repeal the Indian Act, dismantle the
Department of Indian Affairs, and mothball the reserves by allocating land to aboriginal peoples
on individual basis to do what they want. Aboriginal leaders strongly resisted the White Paper, a
move that many see as a catalyst that mobilized Aboriginal peoples into action for redefining their
relations with Canada.
•Canada since colonization had a policy of assimilation
•Until White Paper (Trudeau) Aboriginal Concerns had focused on basic survival strategies
•By Late 70’s palpable sense of revolt
•1982- Aboriginal and Treaty rights entrenched in the constitution
•1995- New era, when the liberal gov’t acknowledged the “inherent right” of Canada’s aboriginal
peoples to self-government.
•In relatively short time Aboriginal people have leapt from wards of the state to self-determining
•From minority group with needs to a people with rights
•Enormous amount that still needs to be done before they assume their rightful place in Canada
•Canada has been slow in recognizing aboriginal differences, acknowledging aboriginal realities as a
basis for “living together separately” and in recognizing the legitimacy and implications of
aboriginal peoples rights
•Relationships largely dominated by the colonial model that reflects the Eurocentric constitutional
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•Aboriginals have inherent and collective rights that set them apart from Canadians in terms of
•Were Canada’s First peoples, first occupants of this country
•Highest unemployment rates, un-education, suicide and morbidity rates
•Canada’s mistreatment of aboriginals is called a national tragedy
•Reinforcement of thinking that Aboriginal peoples are problem peoples
•Many aboriginal peoples have take initiative for moving forward
•Reality of Aboriginal peoples at present:
-Growing recognition of aboriginal rights, court decisions that uphold aboriginal people’s claims to self-
determining autonomy and constitutional changes to the political architecture for framing the relationship
- Dispossession, disempowerment, degradation and despair at individual and community levels
•Aboriginal Policy is shown to have generated as many problems as it set out to solve. Result of
privileging national interests over aboriginal concerns
•3 levels of engagement:
•Taking aboriginal differences seriously
•Recognizing aboriginal title and treaty rights
•Promoting aboriginal models of self-determining autonomy
Canada’s Aboriginal Peoples: Diversity in Inequality
•Various labels- Métis, status Indian, Inuit, Treaty Indian etc. all oppressive classifications devised by
a gov’t to categorize and control
•Each term is a legalistic concept for political and bureaucratic reasons
•These divisions made it difficult for aboriginals to speak with one voice, and create internal
•Close to 1.7 million individuals in 2006 reported having Aboriginal Ancestry
•Regional differences are notable- highest concentration of First Nations were in Ontario and western
•87% of Métis live in Ontario or western provinces
•Winnipeg had largest Aboriginal urban population
•1876- Indian Act established criterion for defining an Indian, focused on patrilineal descent
•1951- Indian Act defined Indian as a person who pursuant to the Indian Act registered as an Indian
or entitled to register
•Fed gov’t recognizes responsibility for providing services and programs only for status Indians
•Status Indians then divided into either treaty or non-treaty Indians depending on whether ancestors
signed agreement with fed gov’t
•Membership of status Indians is defined:
•Registration in a general registry in Ottawa
•Affiliation with one of 633 bands
•Entitlement to residence on band reserve lands
•Jurisdiction under the Indian Act
•Responsibility for status Indians rests with fed gov’t- allocated around 9 billion per year for spending
on programs and administration
•Interests of status Indians are represented by the band chiefs who compromise the Assembly of First
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