Citizens Plus, also known as The Red Paper, 1970

Document Summary:
This is the Aboriginal response to the federal government's White Paper, 1969.

Key Points:

  • The legislature and constitutional basis of Indian status and rights should be maintained until Aboriginals are prepared and willing to renegotiate them.

  • The only way to maintain Indian culture is remain as Indians.

  • Aboriginals already have access to the same services as other Canadians, plus additional rights and privileges that were established by the British North America Act, various treaties and governmental legislation.

  • Only Aboriginals and Aboriginal organizations should be given the resources and responsibility to determine their own priorities and future development lines. The federal government has a distorted view of treaty rights and is not to be trusted on this issue.

  • The government wrongly thinks that the Crown owns reserve lands. The Crown merely "holds" such lands, though they belong to Aboriginals. The government also thinks that Aboriginals only can own land in the Old World, European sense of land ownership. Therefore, the Aboriginal peoples should be allowed to control land in a way that respects both their historical and legal rights.

  • The Indian Act should be reviewed, but not repealed. It should only be reviewed when treaty rights issues are settled and if there is a consensus among Aboriginal peoples on such changes regarding their historical and legal rights.

  • The Department of Indian and Northern Affairs should cease to exist in its archaic and paternalistic form. A similar federal agency should be established to look more closely at and be more attuned to the needs of the Aboriginal peoples - particularly when it comes to ensuring that treaty and land rights promises are kept.

  • Aboriginals reject the appointment of a sole commissioner in a Royal Commission, because he will be appointed by the government itself to protect its interests without Aboriginal consultation. The government, instead, should call an "independent, unbiased, unprejudiced" commission that should have the power to bring any witnesses or documents that it or the Aboriginals wish to present. Its judgments should be legally binding.