Natives and Self-government Essay

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Natives and Self-government

From the moment of organized European appearances in North America, negotiation has been a central characteristic of relationships between aboriginal residents and newcomers. It is a characteristic that has been evident in treaty-making throughout Canada for more than three hundred years and it continues to be the order of the day in modern treaties, claims and agreements being negotiated with First Nations, Inuit, and Métis across in Canada. 1
One of the central issues in the negotiations over the past three decades has been the question of aboriginal self-government, which has taken second place only to comprehensive land claims negotiations in areas where no treaties have been signed to date.
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Among academics, political leaders, and government representatives differences of opinion and concern abound: differences about the most beneficial structure of self-government, about who controls what, about when self-government should be implemented, about whether or not a true form self-government can ever be achieved.
Those who are critical of current forms of aboriginal self-government view them as little more than convenient arrangements that allow aboriginal people administrative responsibility for services which are ultimately controlled by the federal or provincial government.3 They argue that self-government is essentially glorified municipal government; arrangements which are far from the ideal of a third level of government equal in legislative and financial authority to the federal and provincial governments.4
Self-government proposals also have their critics among the very people for whom it is intended. For example, Inuit women have objected to many parts of the Nunavut agreement mainly because of concerns about an emphasis on conventional southern Canadian notions of resource management. They also had concerns and about an emphasis on the economic, social and political roles and issues for men at the expense of those of women in Nunavut (Inuit Women‰s Association, 1993). In
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