Centre’s Director believes principles are a starting point to true recognition and implementation of Indigenous rights
Nanaimo, BC: The Centre for Pre-Confederation Treaties and Reconciliation at Vancouver Island University is supportive of the Federal Government’s release of the Principles Respecting the Government of Canada’s Relationship with Indigenous Peoples. The Principles indicate a starting point for the federal government to transform Canada’s laws, policies, and operational practices based on recognition of Indigenous peoples, governments, laws, and inherent rights. They also speak to taking action to properly implement pre-confederation and historic treaties as mutual acts of recognition, something that the Federal crown has long avoided.
“It is long overdue for the federal Crown to step to the plate and reject laws, policies, and practices grounded in denying Indigenous title and rights, and violating treaties that were entered into. The only path to reconciliation is one that begins with recognition,” said Douglas White III, Director of the Centre. “More than 50 years of court decisions – beginning here on Vancouver Island with the White and Bob decision in the early 1960s – has been telling the Crown they must radically change their conduct, including the laws and policies of this country, to be based on the uncontested reality of Indigenous sovereignty. The work of reconciliation between sovereigns – which is what the pre-confederation treaties of Vancouver Island were intended to achieve – now needs to be implemented in real, tangible ways that will transform the lives of nations and communities.”
The Centre was created to advance research, understanding and dialogue about the pre-confederation treaties and the challenge of reconciliation amongst scholars, Indigenous nations, educational institutions and the general public.
“The Principles can be used to help deepen dialogue and understanding of specific challenging but needed shifts – such as towards free, prior, and informed consent, self-determination and the inherent right of self-government. The future of Canada will be significantly shaped by how we come to understand our true history, the depths of colonization of Indigenous peoples, and how much must now be done to shift into proper relations. The Principles will be useful in moving that forward by shifting our focus from the conflictual and adversarial fight over the existence of Indigenous rights, to their active and real recognition and implementation.”
Dr. Ralph Nilson, President and Vice-Chancellor of VIU, stated that the announcement was an important step forward in the process of reconciliation between Canada’s Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples.
“It’s critical that all educational institutions show strong support for this announcement by adopting these Principles – recognizing that they are part of the critical process of moving the progress of reconciliation forward now and for the future of Canada.”
Photo cutline: Douglas White III Kwulasultun, Director, Centre for Pre-Confederation Treaties and Reconciliation, Vancouver Island University. Photo credit: Vancouver Island University
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Douglas White III Kwulasultun, Director, Centre for Pre-Confederation Treaties and Reconciliation, Vancouver Island University
Janina Stajic, Manager, Communications & Public Engagement, Vancouver Island University