Aboriginal Support

Year Published:  1983
Resource Type:  Serial Publication (Periodical)
Cx Number:  CX2829

A newsletter first printed in the summer of 1983 by the Aboriginal Support Committee.

ABORIGINAL SUPPORT is a newsletter first printed in the summer of 1983 by the Aboriginal Support Committee. Born out of an Aboriginal Title and Rights Conference held in February 1983, the Committee is "an organization of volunteers committed to exposing and supporting issues of Indian people and Indian roganizations, particularly in B.C." Action-oriented, it has two primary objectives - to promote on-going educaiton and to moblize pressure for change. "ASC supports the right of Indian people to self-determination in all its forms and aspects." it "strives to be self-sufficient in resources, to avoid draining the Indian communtiy's resources."

In the first two issues of ABORIGINAL SUPPORT, various articles explore the implications of the constitutional accord reached between the federal and provincial governments and Indian leaders in March 1983, and the earlier passage of the Canada Act. A commentary by George Manual on the 1983 Assembly of First Nations emphasizes the need to spell out the detail what is meant by the goal of self-determination, and to present a united front for negotiaitons. Manual proposes that self-determination as defined include a degree of power and sovereignty over territory, Indian laws, political and other institutions, and an Indian Revenue Authority.

Another notes: "At the Constitutional table and at the land claim table, various questions are being decided about the future of the Indian Nations; Whose territory is British Colubia? Are Indians Canadians or citizens of the Indian Nation? Are Indians and traditional territories to be governed under Indian law or Canadian law, or both? Is Canada a part of the foreign policy of the Indian Nations or are the Indian Nations part of Canada's domestic policy?"

Assimilation is foreseen by one writer as possible outcome in the aftermath of the accord, which wiped out any measure of protection under the formere BNA Act without addressing the issue of unequal bargaining power. Government policies are seen as cumulative - the destruction of traditional economies, lease of land to non-Indians, the provision of welfare and grants which further economic dependence, refusal to recognize rights, all leading up to the extinguishing of aboriginal title through land claim settlements. The current tactic of providing grants contingent on the formation of corporations by bands to develop local economies is seen by another writer as destructive of traditional values and as fostering a profit-oriented exploitative relationship to the land.

The August issue of ABORIGINAL SUPPORT focuses on the implications of the July budget of the B.C. government for Indian peoples specifically. With the loss of the Human Rights Commission under Bill 127, the cuts in social services (Bill 3), the elimination of rent control and the rentalman's office (Bill 5), and the threats to universal medicare and increased user-fees for hospital services (Bill 24), Natives in urban areas will be especially hard-hit.

Court battles are another aspect of Indian struggles for sovereignty. An article in the July issue traces the history and implications of an eight-year legal battle by the Musqueam Band in B.C. to have the Federal Crown declared in breach of trust over land management that resulted in the surrender in 1958 of 162 acres of band land to the Shaughnessy Heights Golf Club. A 1982 ruling reversing the original decision in favour of the Band has broad political implications and a final ruling will affect a number of other such cases being pressed by other bands. Another article in the August issue gives details of a case, involving the Kamloops Band, which has become a major constitutional battel against the power of the provincial government to assert jurisdiction on reserves.

While the newsletter's primary focus is on events in Canada, the struggles of the indigenous peoples elsewhere are also highlighted - for example, the "state of emergency" declared in early summer by the Peruviam regime and its impacts on the Indian people there who make up over 30 percent of the population. Another article (August) outlines the results of a fact-finding mission, by the Dakota Ojibway Tribal Council of Manitoba, to evaluate the situaiton of the Guatelmaian Inidans in refugee camps in Central America.

The newsleter also provides brief updates of events in B.C. and meeting announcements.

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