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The relationship between the individual rights to freedom and equality secured under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the recognition of the collective rights of Indigenous Peoples under section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982, has long been a point of contention and uncertainty for Indigenous Peoples. The Supreme Court of Canada has the chance to resolve this conflict in a way that respects Indigenous laws, institutions, and modern Crown-Indigenous treaties in the Dickson v. Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation case.
Indigenous Self-Government & the Charter
In the Dickson case, a Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation (VGFN) member brought a Charter claim against the First Nation because of the residency restriction in its election code. Anyone elected to the First Nation’s Council must live or move to the village of Old Crow on the First Nation’s settlement lands to hold elected office. Ms. Cindy Dickson, a member of the First Nation who lives outside of the settlement lands, requested that the court rule the residency restriction invalid because it infringes on her section 15 Charter rights.
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