June is National Indigenous History Month.
It is time to honour the history, heritage and diversity of Indigenous peoples in Canada. Part of this history is understanding the rights of Indigenous people. It is critical that we understand, acknowledge and appreciate the unvarnished account of the relationship between Indigenous people and Canada. Understanding the mistakes of the past, and the journey that still needs to be taken is essential to the foundation of a truly fair and inclusive society.
The following timeline outlines some of the key landmark decisions that have progressed the recognition of Indigenous Rights in Canada. It is not meant to be all inclusive, nor does it suggest that the journey is complete. Rather, it is meant to shed light on the nature of the relationship between Canada and Indigenous peoples.
By highlighting the gaps in basic rights as well as the progress to remedy the situation we can appreciate the magnitude of the challenges that lead to our current environment and the work to be done.
Before European Contact
Canada was inhabited by Indigenous groups from North to South and East to West. These groups had their own traditions, culture, laws and governance structures. Trade existed between the different groups as did conflict and competition for resources and land.