Saturday, March 27, 2010

Beyond the Indian Act: Restoring Aboriginal Property Rights

I had a myriad of choices for Thursday evening HM Minister of Citizenship Jason Kenney was in town for a fundraiser for Agop Everklian. The McGill Conservatives were hosting Maxime Bernier and HM Minister of Transport John Baird. I decided to attend a Fraser Institute event with Prof Tom Flanagan and Andre Le Dressay. They were promoting their new book Beyond the Indian Act: Restoring Aboriginal Property Rights. The problems of Canada's Native peoples are massive. The solutions attempted so far have not worked. It was news to me that The Crown holds all Aboriginal land for the use of Aboriginals.
Former Nisga'a elder Manny Jules with Flanagan and Le Dressay propose actually giving Aboriginals title and then allowing bands to choose what they do with the land including allowing subdision and property rights under Aboriginal jurisdiction. This is already being done with a small portion of Nisga'a land.
Not all bands would be interested in this but some would be and if they show success as the Nisga'a have, it may spread. The audience reaction was generally positive, but there were concerned voiced about assimilation. We had dinner with Prof Flanagan and Le Dressay afterwards and continued the discusion. It was a great evening.
Here is a question and answer session on the book in the NP. There has been good coverage in the national press. My friend Joseph Quesnel likes the idea. I think this is an excellent idea. The present policies have been a dismal failure. I do think the treaties with the Crown are sacred and must be honoured, but we do need to think outside the box.  I would love to abolish the entire Indian act and divide the $9 billion spent annually to Native people as a monthly stipend. That's not likely any time soon, so we need other ideas.
Buy the book!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Both Manny Jules and the Nisga'a First Nation would be very surprised to find Mr. Jules as a Nisga'a elder, former or otherwise. Mr. Jules is from Kamloops, and I don't know that there is such an entity as a "former elder". But I do agree that the ideas have merit and the book is worth buying.

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