Demand to be Counted
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Demand to be Counted
Growing multiculturalism, feminism and native activism shape Canadian society

"We want to let you know that you are dealing with fire. We say, Canada, deal with us today because our militant leaders are already born. We cannot promise that you are going to like the kind of violent political action we can just about guarantee the next generation is going to bring to our reserves." - George Erasmus, the leader of the Assembly of First Nations, 1988

Read these indepth articles about
Demand to be Counted


Natives Speak Out
Native people air long-held grievances at the Berger Commission
Standoff at Oka
A Mohawk standoff becomes a rallying cry for native anger and frustration
Limits of Acceptance
A RCMP cadet asks to wear his turban and sparks a stormy national debate
Equal Under the Law
Canadian women fight for equality as the country creates a charter of rights
In the latter part of the 20th century, emerging voices in Canadian society helped reshape the country. Native activism, multiculturalism and feminism were on the rise and made a distinct mark on the Canadian social and political landscape.

The 1970s saw rising native activism in Canada. In 1974, Ottawa launched a highly unusual government inquiry that became a rallying point for aboriginal issues in Canada and provided a rare opportunity for natives to air long-held grievances.

The Mackenzie Valley Pipeline inquiry lead by Judge Tom Berger received widespread media coverage. For many Canadians, watching the inquiry was the first time they heard native concerns voiced by the people themselves.

In the end, few concrete gains were realized as a result of the inquiry. And in the next decade, native politicians began making dire predictions about what might happen if their voices went unheard in the future.

The predictions would come true in 1990, when Mohawks at Kanesatake, west of Montreal, set up a blockade, that ended with the death of a policeman.

During the latter part of the 20th century, Canada multicultural groups were also demanding to be counted as the country continued to become more racially diverse.

In 1990, a young Canadian Sikh named Baltej Singh Dhillon directly challenged Canadians limits of acceptance of their cultural mosaic. As a cadet with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Dhillon asked to be allowed to wear his turban in the line of duty, in recognition of his religious traditions.

Dhillon eventually won the right wear his turban as a RCMP officer, establishing a precedent of great symbolic power.

Throughout the 1970s, Canadian women experienced a rising consciousness after a series of legal cases seemed to testify to the inadequate legal guarantees women had against sexual discrimination.

In the early 1980s, women seized the moment and ensured that an equal rights clause was enshrined in Canada's new Charter of Rights.


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