Know Your Rights Blog

Episode 10

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Hard to believe that our ten weeks is up! What a ride we've had. I've learned a lot - and hope you have, too. It's been our honour to bring you this show.

To bid farewell, we decided to have a look at the future. Next year, our Charter will be thirty years-old! Something to celebrate, for sure. But also a good time for reflection on what could be changed or updated. And that's what our final episode is all about: Where do we go from here?

For answers, we ask familiar voices from past shows like lawyers Tom Schuck, Noa Mendelsohn Aviv, Rob Holmes and Michael Moon. We'll also have a very interesting discussion about "genetic rights" with Bev Heim-Myers. She's the Chairperson of The Canadian Coalition for Genetic Fairness, and her concerns may be a revelation to a lot of people!

iain russell.jpgWe'll also have a discussion with Iain Russell (pictured left). He loves our Charter so much that he had part of it tattooed on his torso!

You'll hear from Iain that, although The Charter is getting on in years, it's still very vital and important to his generation.

And, in the end, that may be the most rewarding idea of all. No doubt, the discussion will continue - and well it should!


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

Do Dr. Pam Palmater's "Identity Exercise"!

Ever wonder what the Canadian government deems an aboriginal person? Well, you may be surprised by the answer.

One of our guests this week, Pam Palmater, gave us this handy refrence tool: Indian status slides revised.pdf.

Check it out!

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.)