Did the state peoples exist as sovereigns before the Constitution

Through a series of treaties, Sir William Johnson, with the help of his consort and adviser, , successfully neutralized the old French-Indigenous alliance during the Seven Years’ War. These treaties guaranteed the protection of Indigenous lands from Anglo-American colonists looking to take over lands north of the border. After the British victory over the French on the , Johnson made agreements with the Seven Nations of Canada (comprising of Mohawk, , Anishinaabeg, and peoples) who inhabited Catholic missions near and along the St. Lawrence Valley (see ), to provide security with regards to their lands, trade and religion. One of these treaties was the in 1760. Another, in the same year, was the , a peace treaty signed by General that was designed to provide the Huron with military protection and other freedoms and rights after the French retreated. The in May 1990 tested the durability of this treaty. In that year, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in a groundbreaking decision that the and Canadian governments had infringed on the Huron’s rights to their traditional territory, as established by the Murray Treaty of Longueuil. The court ruled that the occupation of the territory in question by the Crown was subject to the rights and customs of the Huron.

Today we understand clearly and accept fully the idea that constitution limits absolute power.

Indigenous peoples argued that Canada lacked the authority to sever the relationship between their nations and the imperial Crown without consent. Their challenge to the legality of patriation ultimately led to Chief Justice Lord Denning’s judgement of January 1982, in which he confirmed that treaty relationships entered into by Indigenous peoples in Canada had indeed been with the Crown in respect of the United Kingdom. Through constitutional evolution, however, the responsibility to manage treaty rights had come to be vested with the Canadian government. “No parliament,” proclaimed Lord Denning, “should do anything to lessen the worth of these guarantees.”

The U.S. Constitution: An Overview | Scholastic

Indigenous and treaty rights were a particularly controversial and difficult issue during the patriation of the . On 5 November 1981, nine provincial governments (excluding Québec) entered into the federal government’s patriation plan on the condition that Indigenous and treaty rights be stripped from the draft constitution. However, after widespread demonstrations and campaigning by Indigenous groups, section 35, which recognizes and reaffirms existing Indigenous treaty rights, was reinstated. Premier of Alberta was instrumental in inserting the word “existing,” expecting this would lead to a more limited judicial interpretation of section 35.

Is the Constitution Still Relevant? – Consortiumnews

At the top point of the triangle we have the Constitution.
At lower left, we have the Legislative Process – proposal, debate, and formulation of laws;
at lower right the Enforcement Agencies – police, judiciary, correction.

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The negotiation of modern-day treaties somewhat stagnated during Prime Minister ’s first term (1984-88.) However, this state of affairs was to change during Mulroney's second term (1988-93.) In June 1990, , an Oji-Cree MLA from , blocked a sweeping revision to the Canadian Constitution negotiated at by the 11 first ministers without Indigenous representation (see .) The next month, an argument between the Mohawk of Kanesatake and the town council of Oka over a proposed golf course flared into an armed standoff (see .) In 1991, the government appointed a just as a surge of new political interest was invested into modern-day treaty making. The Oka crisis and other First Nation activism helped to bring Indigenous issues to the fore.

The Constitution is based on popular sovereignty

The 1975 is often considered to be Canada’s first modern-day treaty. As in earlier times, a move to open up a new resource frontier — in this case, the potential of the rivers flowing into the eastern region of — led to negotiations with Indigenous peoples. Although the enormous hydroelectric project was initiated in 1971 without their sanction, the area’s and peoples asserted their unceded Indigenous rights through the courts. The Cree also used the media to assert their rights (see .)


As its name implies, the Supreme Court is a Court of appeal at the head of the judicial system, and will only review the constitutionality of a particular law as a last resort after it has been challenged by enterprising and persistent citizens through the lower courts.