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It’s time to close the door on Canada’s colonial past, and take a human rights-based approach

By Perry Bellegarde      

Borne of racism, and an impulse to control, the Indian Act has long proven itself broken by any metric. Closing the gap in the quality of life between First Nations and Canadians goes beyond programs and funding focused on reserve lands. There is a direct relationship between that gap in quality of life and the persistent failure to respect First Nations rights.Our exclusion from the economic life of this country begins with the failure to include us as self-determining peoples in the design and administration of laws and policies that affect us.

An important step towards reconciliation was made at the United Nations last month when Canada expressed its unqualified support for the UN declaration. I commend the federal government for taking this important step. The next step is to formalize that support by adopting and implementing the UN declaration in federal legislation developed with indigenous peoples, to ensure the government of Canada respect and honour its principles, writes Perry Bellegarde. The Hill Times photograph by Jake Wright

Canada is getting ready to close the door on its colonial past and open new opportunities—cultural, political, and economic—for First Nations. However, that past and its legacies are still very much a part of our present. It is embedded in the Indian Act. Borne of racism, and an impulse to control, the Indian Act has long proven itself broken by any metric. Closing the gap in the quality of life between First Nations and Canadians goes beyond programs

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