Traditionally, I was told that life was without dysfunction and all peoples embraced their individual, family and community moments, with language and culture unmolested. No one was without their natural common knowledge and life was certainly great, naturally challenging but humanly honourable. The transition of becoming wards of the state began by limiting and overall eliminating decision making from the family and community levels.
Ultimately, during the whole the relationship there has been one constant from the Royal Proclamation of 1793 to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom: the protection of Aboriginal and Treaty rights. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms Section 25 states, “The guarantee in this Charter of certain rights and freedoms shall not be construed as to abrogate or derogate from any aboriginal, treaty or other rights or freedoms that pertain to the aboriginal peoples of Canada including (a) any rights or freedoms that have been recognized by the Royal Proclamation of October 7, 1763; and (b) any rights or freedoms that now exist by way of land claims agreements or may be so acquired.” Section 25 upholds three categories of rights and freedoms against Charter claims: (1) Aboriginal rights, (2) Treaty rights, and (3) other rights or freedoms that pertain to the Aboriginal Peoples of Canada.
Section 25 was heavily influenced by the Royal Proclamation, which the main provision states, “essential to our Interest, and the Security of our Colonies, that the several Nations or Tribes of Indians with whom we are connected, and who live under our Protection, should not be molested or disturbed in the Possession of such Parts of Our Dominions and Territories as, not having been ceded to or purchased by us, are reserved to them, or any of them, as their Hunting Grounds.” Basically, it is intended to resolve differences between First Peoples and settlers and stopping, or at best slowing, the encroachment of settlers on our lands. The Royal proclamation influenced both United States and Canadian law until 1867, apparently. This is when the Indian Act showed its ugly face and made the people wards of the state.
I have always interpreted Royal Proclamation as ensuring we were treated as the Original People of these lands and treated just as any other royal peoples, or blue bloods would be from Europe. We are the royal peoples of this land and our royalty is two faceted. Royals by original inhabitants, and royal as obtaining royalties from the revenue made from natural resources. But, that’s a pipe dream for now, and we are searching for ways to declare our self-identity and government of which we have control of regulation and revenue of processes in our communities. We can explore ways of re-establishing our freedoms and rights over the jurisdiction of our lands.
In Ontario a youth can emancipate from their parents or guardians. The law refers to the legal process for a minor (a person under the age of majority) to become legally separated from their parents or guardians. If the youth has not had their basic needs met by their guardian/parent, if their service for education, housing or health are not maintained at a sufficient level, the youth only has to prove their ability to provide their own financial independence, prove they would serve themselves better than their guardians/parents, and the courts will grant them emancipation.
The emancipation proclamation issued by United States President Abraham Lincoln on January 1, 1863 freed more than 3.5 million African Americans from slavery, who like us were wards of the state. Some reasons we would emancipate: inadequate basic human needs and services provided by the Master/Parent/Guardian as guaranteed by Treaty.
Where will we prove our financial independence and revenue source: Treaty proves that in exchange for the bounty of the land the Crown pre/post confederation signed a contract to provide housing, education and health care. Essentially, we could calculate the cost of living to provide services to run a community efficiently. We could look at the soft transfer of INAC to First Nation and Inuit people communities who would get a transfer payment from Canada’s Gross Domestic Product and manage these resources for community infrastructure and services. So, the literal meaning of emancipation is the fact or process of being set free from legal, social, or political restrictions; total liberation.
There always begs the argument of whether or not the Treaties were signed under duress, when a person is influenced to sign a contract under pressure? Or, by involuntarily drugging? Not often is intoxication a defence to get out of a contract, however there is one exception to the rule and that is when one person in the contract knew about the intoxication and took advantage of the person.
Perhaps this is the only way we can get a fair legal assertion of our rights and ensure that we re-establish our sovereignty, decision-making and access to regulation and revenue of all processes in our communities. The guardians have not been the best stewards of the people nor the lands. This life today, our earth as a whole is in need of the first people’s collective histories, wisdom, traditional and sustainable cultural knowledge to reclaim the freedom once enjoyed. A great quote that comes to mind is from Paulo Freire, who says so eloquently in Pedagogy of the Oppressed, “The greatest humanistic and historical task of the oppressed: to liberate themselves...”