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Sec. 35 rights are not to be given to just anybody – The Hill Times

June 24, 2024

OTTAWA—Back in the older days of the 1980s, Indigenous leaders fought with the support of the United Nations to enshrine Indigenous rights into Canada’s Constitution as Sec. 35, the source of so many all-night debates by Indigenous Peoples. Some question if the very insertion of Indigenous rights within the larger Canadian jurisprudence is not just giving away the farm as why should Canada have legal oversight over our rights? Others argue that, of course, the clause has to be here, where else could it be?

Sec. 35 acknowledges Indigenous Peoples were here first, have rights that nobody can erase, and—this is where things get a bit fuzzy—what are those rights? But let’s skip right over that because courts across Canada are debating the innards of this box of rights.

What is not fuzzy, and not unclear at all, is this: Indigenous rights are for Indigenous Peoples. It’s not like any Tom, Dick, or Mary can show up at 10 Wellington in Gatineau to visit Indian Affairs and pick up some rights. It’s not like signing in and grabbing a badge.

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