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Episode 9

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Does the date October 7, 1763 ring any bells? Have any personal relevance? That is the date of King George the third's Royal Proclamation of 1763. So what possible relevance could this dog-eared old piece of paper have in 2011? 

Well, this document has been called the "Indian Magna Carta" or the "Indian Bill of Rights".

So the answer is: Plenty.

This week on the show, we're talking Aboriginal Rights. And yes, it's complex. Look at the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. When it talks about basic freedoms, it's direct: "Everyone has freedom of conscious and religion, freedom of thought."  No messing around.  When it talks about aboriginal rights - well, not so much.

"The guarantee in this Charter of certain rights and freedoms shall not be construed so as to abrogate or derogate from any aboriginal, treaty or other rights or freedoms that pertain to the aboriginal peoples of Canada including any rights or freedoms that have been recognized by the Royal Proclamation of October 7, 1763; and any rights or freedoms that now exist by way of land claims agreements or may be so acquired."

So, we ask the question: "What is the number one issue right now when it comes to Aboriginal Rights?" Not surprisingly, there is more than one "number one" issue.

Tracy Booth, the executive director of the Elizabeth Fry Society of Manitoba believes that the number one issue is the high percentages of aboriginal people in jails.

Jonathan Rudin is the Program Director  at Aboriginal Legal Services in Toronto thinks that how aboriginal people are treated in the courts system should be a priority.

Ontario Provincial Police Commissioner, Chris Lewis, is most concerned with the conflicts that occur when treaties and land are in dispute.

But most fundamentally, there is the very question of who the government deems an aboriginal. Lawyer, writer and professor, Pam Palmater, has worked with the government on aboriginal issues for over a decade.

Obviously, in 27 minutes and 30 seconds, we can barely scratch the surface of this topic. But it's our hope that we've at least started a conversation...

(Check out The Fine Print for some background information on this week's show.) 

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