Section 35 of the Constitution

Section 35 of the Constitution...

In 1982, Canada changed its Constitution to add a Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Charter sets out the fundamental rights and freedoms that all citizens of Canada enjoy. The Charter is the highest law of Canada, and all governments, agencies and boards are required to follow its words.

At the same time, Canada included specific recognition of Aboriginal Rights in section 35, it says:

(1) The existing Aboriginal and Treaty rights of the Aboriginal peoples of Canada are hereby recognized and affirmed.

The Dene Métis Negotiations

In 1974, the Indian Brotherhood of the Northwest Territories and the Metis Association of the NWT joined together to negotiate for a single comprehensive land claim on behalf of all Aboriginal peoples of the Mackenzie Valley, including Tlicho.

After 10 years of negotiations, in May 1988, an Agreement-in-Principle was complete. The AIP covered 450,000 sq. miles of land and dealt with harvesting rights, transfer payments and social programs, but did not include self-government powers.

Monfwi Signs Treaty 11

On August 22, 1921, Chief Monfwi, representing all Tlicho, signed Treaty 11 with Canada. The Treaty promised to give the Tlicho annual payments and services, like medical care, education and old age care. In exchange, Canada would get title to the land, and would be free to allow gas and mineral exploration throughout the Mackenzie Valley.

Modern Treaty Process

It was becoming clear that the old treaties with Canada, including Treaty 11, were no longer working for Aboriginal people. Promises of care and services were not being kept, and Aboriginal rights were being interfered with.

In 1968, Tlicho assembled in Behchoko, and together refused to accept Treaty payments. The boycott signaled a growing movement. The Aboriginal people of the North were beginning to question the fairness of their Treaties, and assert their Aboriginal Rights and Title.


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