Citizens Plus: Aboriginal Peoples and the Canadian State by Alan C. Cairns

By Alan C. Cairns

In Citizens Plus, Alan Cairns unravels the old checklist to explain the present deadlock in negotiations among Aboriginal peoples and the nation. He considers the assimilationist coverage assumptions of the imperial period, examines more moderen govt projects, and analyzes the emergence of the nation-to-nation paradigm given tremendous aid by way of the Royal fee on Aboriginal Peoples. Citizens Plus stakes out a center flooring with its help for constitutional and institutional preparations that would concurrently realize Aboriginal distinction and toughen universal citizenship.

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The message transmitted to the subjects of empire was unambiguous – in a world of competing cultures and races, their way of life, cultural achievements, governing capacities, etcetera, were seriously deficient. Accordingly, they were to be taken care of, and administered by superior others. In many cases, cherished customs and practices were prohibited by the imperial administration. At the height of empire, just prior to the Second World War, subject peoples of empire constituted a majority of the non-European population of the world.

History is one of the arenas in which struggles occur. Bruce Trigger suggested in 1985 that the enhanced status of Native peoples in Canada required more objective appraisals of their role in Canadian history. ”71 Historical debates are not trivial. When modified historical interpretations emanate from a source with high legitimacy they can, over time, shape our self-understandings. Thus the rcap report, Partners in Confederation, argues for an inherent Aboriginal right of self-government in language designed to transform how we understand our past and, consequently, our present.

133 According to Bruner, changes of story line can be relatively quick and complete. Successive stories may have little continuity, and a changed story line can have major consequences. Stories define the situation and distribute resources to actors in conflictual relations. The assimilation story easily became a mask for oppression by justifying the leadership of change agents with power over wards who needed to be taught. The resistance, ethnic resurgence story, by contrast, generates claims for redress for past exploitation, and turns yesterday’s wards into activists for a cultural revival, a better future, and autonomy.

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