Role of Canadian Federalism and First Nation Rights | Assignment Collections |


Indigenous communities have survived in Canada and are noted to be advancing a variety of political claims. The historical relations between the first nation people and the settler societies are specific to location and people as they do include several key moments such as the Treaty at Niagara, the Royal Proclamation of 1763 among others. With the United Nations Declarations of the rights of the first nation people presenting itself as a new international standard against which the matters of the relevance of the indigenous people are measures, the issue of federalism does come to the forefront. Federalism does feature a compound mode of government that sees the combination of the general government along with regional governments within a unitary political system. In Canada, the three main areas of discussion and debate concerning the first nation people surround the ideas of self-government, conflicts over economic development and land use as well as the role of indigenous knowledge in policy and decision making. There is a compelling case presented for the interconnectedness of the fundamental issues of equity as well as the lack of proper recognition for the first nation people’s political and legal status. Federalism in Canada does operate on the principle that authority is shared while the federal constitutions that represent the interest of the communities within the sub-national jurisdiction and at the national level work to promote the wellbeing of all citizens. The Canadian federal government does recognize the importance of reconciliation with the indigenous people. Through its institutions and processes, the performance and effectiveness of Canadian federalism do secure the rights of the first nation people.

The federal system in Canada does protect the rights of the first nation people through the incorporation of the elements of democracy and cultural beliefs into the socio-political system. As a country, Canada is a condition by the combined effects of its political history, issues of immigration as well as a social and cultural landscape. Since the political, social, and economic institutions dominate the lives of the first nation people across the nation, the most important element is the incorporation of indigenous beliefs into the political system. Christine Fletcher (1999) notes that the initial exclusion of the first nation people in Canada from the national state, citizenship as well as the local and provincial institution that offer support to these populations was a central determinant of the process that led to how the indigenous people were administrated. The current Canadian federal system is noted to have revised its immigration policies ensuring that it does not place limits on its exposure to new cultures. The federal system in this instance does encourage regional communities to take part in the decision-making process through the incorporation of democratic ideals as well as the cultural beliefs of the first nation people. Within the federal system, the relationship between the governments and the first nation people are greatly determined by the constitutional allocation of powers between the Canadian provinces and the federal government. Though the federal government does have the authority to determine the administration of the first nation people’s land, the actions taken by the state in this respect are conducted via the constitution. Federalism ensures the constitutional protection of rights and since there is no unitary system, the relation between the indigenous people and the state is prioritized.

The Canadian federal system plays an important role in protecting the rights of the first nation people by recognizing the importance of self-determination. Historically, disputes over land and economic development have featured as long-standing issues among the first nation and settler relations. According to the United Nations Declarations on the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP), issues of land use have been historically regularized thereby leading to the rise of modern treaties as a means of creating institutions for resolution. The federal environment in Canada through its recognition of the importance of self-determination does provide the requirements that are related to accommodation and consultation as part of the necessary procedures when it comes to dealing with indigenous land and resources. Federalism itself as a system of shared rule and self-rule is amenable to the recognition of the jurisdiction autonomy as well as the political status of the indigenous people. Through the federal system, gains have been made in Canada with regards to self-governing and territorial institutions as sub-national economic sovereignty, land rights are recognized. The federal principles adopted by the Canadian government do embody the elements of self-determination. It is this idea that provides room for reforms to be made based on ensuring the protection of the democratic rights of the indigenous people. Federalism does underline a distinct relationship between its principles that guarantee the promotion of levels of authority that can operate on the principles of self-determination which leads to the society as well as the government negotiating effectively on what might push the country forward.

Federalism does as well secure the rights of the indigenous people through the promotion of indigenous unity. Christine Fletcher (1999) argues that it is the interplay of various cultures that bring about institutional responses that are necessary for the provision of good governance as well as the improvement of the various federal frameworks that are used in the reconciliation of historical differences.  It is noted that political unity among the indigenous people has been based on their status as first nation people rather than through the structure created by the states on domestic power-sharing concerning their nations. Indigenous sovereignty is an important element as unity across bordered does provide them with a global identity. As federalism encourages the ideas of self-determination, it does also bring about local and international unity among the first nation people. Canadian federalism is noted to allow the national governments to allow influential support from bodies such as the United Nations in matters where indigenous rights are concerned. Through this, the interest of the indigenous people is advanced as their unity directs attention towards the nation’s political actions towards their progress concerning their cultural traditions. Through unity, the ideas of aboriginal difference are done away with as laws that operate on the mechanism of social recognition are created and become worthy of collective resources. The federal government does recognize indigenous laws that include agreements with other indigenous nations with the objectives being political reforms and actions within the international legal system. It is through the federal system that the constitutional law evolves to allow the unity of indigenous people under the banner of self-determination which in turn allows the implementation of local-based solutions.


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