Abolishing Canada’s Indian Act long overdue.

Bullet points:

Greater detail is provided after these bullet points.

Bill C-15 

Preamble: Don’t blame Canadians for faulty decision – making chiefs.

ANNEX

Indigenous people of Canada were simply cut off from the European continent’s division of labour and knowledge transfer which caused a time lag in development. Canada fought totalitarian Europe, and recovered quickly through freedom of thought and action. The Indian Act prevents Canadian Indians from these freedoms. Near zero development is kept in place as tribal Chiefs choose the Indian Act governing since 1969 over freedom for its members.  

Article 5 – 7 

Only individual rights can provide the harmony of interests for development and security. 

Article 15

Concept of private property on reserve must be accepted according to UNDRIP article  

Article 20(2) Indian Act must meet UNDRIP requirements. Indigenous governing is not exempt in keeping “colonial governing” as they have since 1969. 

Indian Act, not colonialism has been the main source of poverty and stagnation. Abolition as redress violates no one’s rights.  

Note: Bill C-15 is rushed, vague and therefore open to highly mistaken interpretation which will become a source of agitation and chaos – another Indian Act – to the point of threatening Canadian sovereignty. These are addressed by other Concerned Constituents of Canada’s submissions.  

The following is more in-depth detail of my bullet points. 

Abolishing Canada’s Indian Act long overdue.

For too many decades Canadian Indian’s suffered under legislation called the Indian Act. In 1969 the Indian Affairs Minister proposed abolishing this Act but was met with fierce resistance, protests and violence across Canada. The Indian chiefs stirred the Indian pot to keep this despotic legislation in place. The Chiefs desired the Indian Act as an instrument to leverage political power through compassion and sacrifice of Canadian politicians. Canadian people have been paying for lack of development on Indian reserves since. The following is my letter to the federal committee seeking Canadian alignment to UNDRIP (United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous People).

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Bill C-15. From an individual Rights perspective.

Bill C-15 PREAMBLE:

The preamble refers to injustices no worse than the injustices of totalitarian Europe during WWII, yet Canadians quickly moved past those terrible years, healed, and re-built. 

Those under the Indian Act did not, including native veterans. It was the Indian Act’s monopoly  on the use of physical force that nullified thought, and action of reservation individuals that prevented healing, and rebuilding. 

Continuation of the Indian Act is a major part of limitations for Canadian Indians overall development. Financial institutions for example are not owned by private members, but are held in trust by Council, and Chief. All subject to Indian act restrictions do not have necessary incentives to personally prosper and flourish. Indians, like my parents who left the reserve and status system prospered no matter how poor they were. The humanizing factor of choice is greater off reserve.

Canada developed in a structured, reasoned manner in many ways. Personal ability within a context of freedom enabled citizens to recover quickly from totalitarian Europe. Indigenous people cannot recover no matter what they think or do while under the force of the Indian Act – a legislation they refuse to let go of since Jean Chretien (1969) proposed abolition while he was Indian Affairs Minister. Abolishing the Indian Act would be best policy of reconciliation because it moves towards individual freedom.

Abolishing the Indian Act though an action plan will not abrogate or derogate section 35 of Canada’s Charter. 

Abolishing the Indian Act would be the kindest, most compassionate decision Canada and the Indigenous organizations could make towards healing and opening the way towards genuine development. 

Simply adding more types of laws; Charter, Indian law, International law, etc., complicates what requires simplicity – freedom based on individual rights protection which the poorest would be able to understand. We are talking of real people who need the freedom of choice to think and act to personally build their own private lives. Such reasoned and careful direction is a positive possibility. 

Bill C-15 

ANNEX

Individual rights must be protected always.

My parents were full blooded Shuswap Indians (Squilax/Chase B.C.) whose lands were taken unjustly by the Chief in the 1960’s without compensation. Land surveyors plotted reserve lands according to who lived there at the time. Since my parents were off reserve, they were not counted and the Chief took the land. This was fraudulent practice and no doubt was wide spread across Canada’s 300 + reserves during that time. Such theft may well increase with any  changes of legislation, including Bill C-15. Such positioning may have already started. How?

Consider squatters rights. With the co-operation of the Ontario government, Teranet Inc. has converted Ontario’s 4.3 million land titles from a paper registry to an electronic format. Who on reserves even knows how the Chiefs will allocate, “collective ownership” of property if and when  converting this data method applies to reserves”? 

Off reserve Indians are left out of informed, meaningful negotiations although they constitute a vast majority of the Indigenous population. Many Indian reserves cover vast areas of land but are controlled through nepotism, and benefit only small family groups. 

Bill C-15 cannot exclude urban Indigenous citizens of Canada meaning non-status Indians who have already reconciled their lives, and moved forward. Urban Canadian Indians have thrived without the Indian Act. Off-reserve, no-status people’s lives prove this. 

The Indian Act is the greatest systemic barrier to Indigenous development and should have been abolished when Jean Chretien offered it in 1969. It is the Assembly of Chiefs and Indigenous leaders who retain this unjust, destructive Act. The endless trail of tears will end with freedom. 

Let me offer this solution to solve the government of Canada’s fears of including non-status Indigenous people in Bill C-15. First UNDRIP is non-legally binding, so this entire endeavour is voluntary. I also prefer this Bill not pass, but if it does, solving massive inclusion is possible only by clarifying what rights are and how to acknowledge rights through freedom. 

With Indian Act abolition, I suggest all existing reserve lands that tribal council holds “collectively” be turned into a public corporation under control of Indigenous organizations who cannot sell the lands themselves, but act as stewards. One year after reserves have been turned into Indigenous crown property, that media broadcast unused portions of reserve lands become available for purchase to Indigenous purchasers. Those unused, un-lived in  portions of the reserves can be held available for purchase in limited size and amounts, say in sub-divided plots for a period of say, 25 years (arbitrary). This will give time for as many Urban Indigenous people to “go back home” and purchase a plot of land for themselves – if they wish. Land with existing homes can easily be turned into a form of rent to own, where the band council no longer keeps ownership perpetually while charging rent to Indigenous payers. Private ownership must be an option according to UNDRIP i.e., 25 yr mortgages, where no Indigenous person will be denied the freedom of his beliefs and personal property. 

Some sub divided plots would be eligible for immediate ownership having paid rent most of their lives in their homes. After 25 years, when most urban Indigenous people able to purchase lands, have bought what they want, free and clear title can be introduced, thus evolving once reservation property towards the same status as Canadian ownership before the law. The private property owners can also have the option of turning their owned area into a municipality.  Article 7 and 17 UNDRIP necessitates some form of this.   

Note: Much of Canada’s laws already reflect UNDRIP principles without the need to duplicate internationally what already exists domestically. 

Article 8. Private property will enhance and strengthen cultural tradition.

Article 18. Definition not possible without individual rights underlying the fundamental Harmony of Interest required by the current understanding of Canadian and Indigenous. Individual sovereignty satisfies all involved.

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Bill C-15 Articles

Measures for Consistency of Laws and Achieving the Objectives of the declaration

5. Individual rights are the most consistent with UNDRIP. I’m offering a mere glimpse.

6 (1) A thought out action plan prior to accepting Bill C-15 to avoid legal chaos, misunderstandings, and delay. 

   (2)  Only freedom based on inherent, (inalienable) individual rights, (UNDRIP’s article 17, 18). can provide a means of just property gain. By contrast, sophisticated, Indigenous use of eminent domain in this area will cause injustice to private property holders similar to what is happening today. See Bill C-222 (expropriation without consultation to private property owners). VOTE NO. 53  43RD PARLIAMENT, 2ND SESSION Sitting No. 60 – Wednesday, February 17, 2021

(4) Abolishing the Indian Act has no downside, but an action plan for this should begin now, even if Bill C-15 does not reach Royal Assent. (See my following comments in ANNEX).

Bill C-15 Article 35. 

Indigenous peoples have the right to determine the responsibilities of individuals to their communities. 

1 No community consensus can replace individual responsibility to his own life. UNDRIP clearly states this. A community (number of individuals) may well have their own practises, beliefs and traditions, but according to Canadian Law, and UNDRIP, such beliefs must not be forced unto someone. nor may someone be excluded by such beliefs. 

2 UNDRIP must equally apply to those very Indigenous groups. Bill C-15 if it passes would apply to Section 35 of our Charter as well. 

3 It would be blatant discrimination if an Indigenous community determines (forces) on an individual, beliefs and behaviour he does not not agree with. Or just as unjust, if an Indigenous band denies off reserve, non-status Indigenous ownership of private individual clear title, property

4 UNDRIP 20: No one may be compelled to belong to an association. UNDRIP Article 18 also applies.

Finally, I’ll add, Canadian leaders need to begin to understand the liberating, and problem solving ability of individual rights before signing international agreements for perceived domestic human relation problems. The Assembly of First nations seeking international solutions means domestic solutions no longer exist or has been exhausted by the bands and they are intellectually bankrupt in this area. 

This is not true. The Indian Act is against all decency and moral living as well as being existentially impossible. Nothing can make it work if its at core, corrupt. Abolishing the Indian Act would solve most of Indian grievances, including and especially those poorest of the poor. The Indian Act is the rotten apple in the barrel and must be severed completely. 

So let us have genuine heart and introduce freedom based on individual rights, property rights and real security to those who do not possess it with on law for Canada. 

Thank you, 

Ted Harlson.