It is from the land that the Native peoples of Canada draw their strength.
If the people of Quebec claim a right to sovereignty, Inuit of Quebec argue their right of self-determination empowers them with the choice to remain part of Quebec, of Canada or to secede on their own.
The James Bay Cree consider Hydro Quebec's "mad plans to engineer and dam the vast ecosystem" where they have lived for centuries an affront to their own right to control their land.
The Labrador Innu are struggling with both the federal and provincial governments to protect their traditional hunting territories from threats imposed by military training flights and mineral exploration.
All of these are challenges. As the Native peoples of Canada are meeting them, asserting their right to make choices for themselves, they stand steadfastly "on the land" from which flow their inherent rights to self-determination.
"We are not willing to be bystanders and spectators. We are not willing to have our political status once again determined by others."
-- Zebedee Nungak, President of Makivik, representing Inuit of Northern Quebec
"Great Whale is only a symptom. The attempted dispossession of my people, and the purported extinguishment of our rights, is the cause."
-- Matthew Coon Come, Grand Chief of the Grand Council of the Cree
"The real solution to the problems that face the Innu people is recognition by Canada and Newfoundland of our rights, rights to our land and our way of life. We can not and will not settle for anything less."
-- Daniel Ashini, Director of Innu Rights and Environment for the Innu Nation
About the Author
Bruce Hodgins has lived in Peterborough since 1965, where Bruce was a Professor of History and Canadian Studies at Trent University until his retirement in 1996. Bruce served as Wanapitei's summer Camp Director until 1993.
Kerry Cannon is the Managing Editor of the Journal of Canadian Studies. She holds a Master's degree from Trent University's Frost Centre for Canadian Heritage and Development Studies. She has written and co-authored several articles on Aboriginal issues and Canadian studies.