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Amending the Canadian Constitution

It was a hard-fought coming of age for Canada. From the 1960s through the early 1980s, Canadian politicians argued fiercely at the constitutional bargaining table over the balance of provincial and federal power. In the end, Canada gained a Charter of Rights and Freedoms and a homemade Constitution. But it would not be without its costs as the question of Quebec's status in Canada loomed larger than ever.

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As the peace pipe is passed around it becomes clear that this round of constitutional debate will be unlike any other. Canadian politicians have assembled to pass the first three amendments to the Canadian constitution. While specific mention of Aboriginal rights had been codified in the 1982 Constitution Act, the politicians agreed to defer on more specific agreements. At this 1983 meeting, Native leaders fight for more negotiation meetings, protected land claims and equality for Native women as reported in this CBC Television report. 
. The Constitution Amendment Proclamation of 1983 secured Aboriginal rights regarding land claim agreements and provided for the equality of Native women. The proclamation also committed provincial and federal governments to include aboriginal representatives in future conferences.

. Quebec premier René Lévesque agreed with the principles proposed by the Aboriginal leaders but did not sign the accord based on his earlier opposition to the Constitution Act. "I say without any bitterness we will not sign this accord," he said at the amendment meeting.
Medium: Television
Program: The National
Broadcast Date: March 16, 1983
Guest(s): David Ahenakew, Louis Bruyere, Clem Chartier, Bill Davis, Georges Erasmus, René Lévesque, Pierre Elliott Trudeau, Charlie Watts, Allan Williams, Bill Wilson
Host: Knowlton Nash
Reporter: Whit Fraser
Duration: 5:36

Last updated: January 26, 2012

Page consulted on November 4, 2014

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