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November 29, 2014
“The great themes of Canada are as follows: Keeping the Americans out, keeping the French in, and trying to get the Natives to somehow disappear.” – Will Ferguson, humorist and 2012 Giller Prize winner
Ferguson’s acerbic quote also summarizes the great unfinished business of Canada which is to reconcile the rights and create a role for the country’s 614 First Nations and their 700,000 members. The failure to have done this after centuries not only impedes national economic development, but is at the root of much of the misery and squalor on and off reserves.
The United States did not make deals, but conquered its Native Americans and, under international law, has only been required to compensate them. But here, Britain signed sovereign deals with aboriginals, catapulting them under international law to the rights and privileges of nation-states. Thus they call themselves First Nations. Australia has a similar history, but, unlike here, Canberra has fully addressed the issues.
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