In the wake of Gerald Stanley’s acquittal in the death of Colten Boushie, a 22 year-old member of the Red Pheasant First Nation in Saskatchewan, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on February 14, 2018 his plan to change the way the federal government relates to Indigenous people in Canada, which includes working with Indigenous partners to create a new legislative framework.
While the Prime Minister did not give specific details, his proposed plan – The Recognition and Implementation of Indigenous Rights Framework – which will be unveiled later this year, appears to focus on self-governance. Trudeau stated that the framework will allow Parliament to “support Indigenous efforts to rebuild nations, which will leave them better equipped to take on the responsibilities of self-governance” and may result in disputes being resolved in more collaborative ways (Tasker, 2018). He also noted that the plan is required in order to address the various issues within Indigenous communities, including unsafe drinking water, overcrowded housing, and high suicide rates for Indigenous youth (Smith, 2018).
According to Trudeau, past governments have failed to implement the rights afforded to Indigenous people under Section 35 of the Canadian Constitution, which has forced Indigenous people to go to the courts in order to have their rights enforced (Smith, 2018). He argues that we need to arrive at a place where “Indigenous peoples in Canada are in control of their own destiny” (Tasker, 2018).
In light of his 2015 election promise to repair Canada’s relationship with its Indigenous people, along with the outcome in Gerald Stanley’s trial, Trudeau is most likely under pressure to have his plan succeed. The federal government intends to implement Trudeau’s plan in time for the 2019 election.
This blog post was written by a CCLA-PBSC RightsWatch student. Views expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCLA or PBSC.