Alienation Of Aboriginal People, James Bay Project

1247 words - 5 pages

According to Brooks and Miljan, in 1876, the Indian Act was passed in the Canadian government, which set out certain federal government obligations, and regulated the management of Indian land reserves and this act was amended several times, most recently in 1985, Section 35 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms stated that aboriginal rights and treaty rights are recognized and makes it clear that treaty rights include rights of land claim agreements (Brooks & Miljan 2003). However, even though there are laws that clearly set boundaries for both government and aboriginals, the battle continues. It is a battle over the land and its resources. The fight has taken place on the land, in the courts and in the media. When government and native groups signed treaty agreements over a century ago, neither side imagined such consequences. Canada has failed the aboriginal people on a massive scale. The flawed justice system as well as unsustainable development has been insensitive to aboriginal people and has alienated them from the society. Poverty and powerlessness have been the Canadian legacy to a people who once governed their own affairs in self sufficiency. And the purpose of this paper is to illustrate how aboriginal people in Canada have politically, economically, socially, culturally and environmentally mistreated and alienated from the Canadian society by mega projects such as James Bay Project.One aspects that portrays the Canadian government as politically and economically unfair to aboriginals is exposed in the James Bay project. According to Hughes, the Quebec provincial government wanted large portions of land in the northern half of the province for the purposes of building hydroelectric dams. However, the whole issue began when the enormous James Bay Hydroelectric Project was launched in 1971 and the residing Cree and Inuit were not consulted with the project (Hughes 2003). They strongly fought this project because it would flood land they believed to be theirs. Shortly thereafter, the province of Quebec created the James Bay Development Corporation to develop all the territory's resources, including hydro, forestry, mining and tourism and in the fall of 1972, the Quebec Association of Indians applied to the Quebec Superior Court for an injunction to stop all construction in the James Bay region (Hughes 2003). The injunction was granted on the grounds that the Government of Quebec had properly committed itself to settling Native land claims and although this decision was overturned a few days later, work continued on the James Bay hydro-electric project, the determination of the Cree and Inuit to protect their historic land based interests led to negotiations toward a land claim agreement (Hughes 2003). By 1974, the governments of Canada and Quebec, the Cree and Inuit of Northern Quebec and Hydro Quebec concluded an agreement that gave hunting and fishing rights to Native people on lands that was to be surrendered to the...

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