Dancing Around the Table: Part One provides a fascinating look at the crucial role Indigenous people played in shaping the Canadian Constitution. The 1984 Federal Provincial Conference of First Ministers on Aboriginal Constitutional Matters was a tumultuous and antagonistic process that pitted Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau and the First Ministers—who refused to include Indigenous inherent rights to self-government in the Constitution—against First Nations, Inuit and Métis leaders, who would not back down from this historic opportunity to enshrine Indigenous rights.In a now infamous exchange, Kwakwaka’wakw lawyer and lead negotiator Bill Wilson states that he has two children who want to become lawyers and prime minister. When he says that they are Indigenous women, the male audience bursts into laughter, and Trudeau replies, “Tell them I’ll stick around until they’re ready.” Over 30 years later, Bill Wilson’s daughter, Jody Wilson-Raybould, became Canada’s first Indigenous minister of justice and attorney general in the government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. The conference was Pierre Elliott Trudeau’s last constitutional meeting before he resigned and the process was handed over to his successor, Brian Mulroney.
Ages 12 to 17
Geography - Territory: Indigenous
Indigenous Studies - History/Politics
Indigenous Studies - Identity/Society
Indigenous Studies - Issues and Contemporary Challenges
the concept of self-government as proposed by the Native peoples in Canada.
Discuss the many arguments put forth by the Native peoples at this conference.
Comment on the attitudes of the Native leaders, Prime Minister Trudeau, René
Lévesque and Premier Richard Hatfield of New Brunswick. Is it accurate to call
the actions of the BC and federal governments "genocide"?