The Relationship Between Canada and Indigenous Peoples: Where Are We?

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date



Aboriginal Law, Decolonization, Reconciliation, Indian Act, Section 35, Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples


This paper examines six major milestones that mark what the Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (RCAP) has called the era of ‘Renewal and Renegotiation’ (1951 to the present). This includes: (1) amendments to the Indian Act in 1951; (2) the 1969 White Paper Policy; (3) the 1973 Calder Decision; (4) Section 35 of Constitution Act, 1982; (5) the 1992 Charlottetown Accord; and (6) the 1996 RCAP Report itself. This examination shows how these events were improvements over the previous era, which RCAP called the era of ‘Domination and Assimilation’, but also to draw attention to the fact that significant problems in the relationship between Canada and Indigenous peoples remain to be addressed. These shortcomings point us in the direction we need to be going on the path to decolonizing and achieving meaningful reconciliation.