Aboriginal and Treaty Rights in Canada’s Constitution - Video Transcript

(The video begins in an animated scene, where it opens up on a view in front of the Canadian Parliament Building with the Centennial Flame in view. The frame zooms in to the Canadian flag on top of the building.)

The Canadian Constitution. It’s the highest law in the country.

(The scene swipes out to a clean screen, where a paper scroll appears on screen and unravels from the top of the frame to the bottom. This scroll is the Canadian Constitution. The scroll rolls back upwards and exits the screen.)

But for over 100 years, it didn’t belong to Canada. It belonged to Britain …

(The scene changes to a view of Westminster, the British Parliament in London, UK. The scene zooms in past a close up view of the British flag, into a building where three British politicians are debating with each other.)

… meaning Canada needed permission from Britain to make any changes.

(The scene swipes out to show a plain background with two flags in the frame: a Canadian flag and the British flag. The British flag is the focus at first, while the Canadian flag is blurry. To symbolize the change, the Canadian flag comes into focus while the British flag becomes blurry in the background. The scene zooms out of the Canadian flag, to show that the flag is on top of the Canadian Parliament buildings. There is a crowd of Canadian citizens in front of the buildings, surrounding the Centennial Flame.)

So, in the late 1970s, the Canadian government took steps to have it brought home.

(A new scene swipes in, and slowly pans right over a long table with characters speaking with each other, in negotiation. A calendar appears, showing the year 1979. The calendar page falls off to show time passing, showing the year 1980. The page again falls off of the calendar, now showing 1981.)

Since the Constitution affects how Canada is governed, all the provinces became involved in negotiations. This complex process took years.

(The scene fades out, and the video swipes through various historical photographs depicting First Nations, Métis and Inuit groups protesting in Ottawa.)

First Nations, Métis and Inuit wanted to make sure their Aboriginal and treaty rights were recognized in the Constitution. This wasn’t an easy task!

(The historical photo fades out to a blank frame where four hands reach from the outside of the frame into the middle of the frame. In a quick transition, the hands disappear and a globe pops into the scene and begins spinning.)

To achieve their goal, they took action in different ways, both nationally and internationally.

(The frame zooms into the globe quickly, and the scene is now inside an office setting of a character representing George Manuel. He is sitting at a desk writing on a piece of paper. The scene changes to be looking over George Manuel’s shoulder, where he is drawing a travel route from Vancouver to Ottawa.)

One idea came from George Manuel, a First Nations leader from British Columbia. He knew that to get the attention of Parliament, the people would have to reach members of Parliament directly.

(The scene zooms into the piece of paper, which now fills up the entire screen. The route from Vancouver to Ottawa is being drawn through animation, and the frame slowly becomes colourful. The frame quickly changes to a view of a train pulling into a train station.)

By working with various First Nations groups, he rented two trains to bring concerned citizens from Vancouver to Ottawa. He called it the Constitution Express.

(The frame fades out, as a slideshow of historical photos fades in. The video cycles through various photos of First Nations, Métis and Inuit groups sitting inside the Constitution Express train.)

As the trains gained momentum, so did the movement.

(A historical photo shows a group of people holding a welcoming banner in the train station. The video transitions through many historical photos of the protesting groups marching through the streets, on the steps of the Parliament building, and more.)

With over a thousand people now on board, the trains finally arrived.

By then, with attention gained from the media, the whole country was listening. Public support grew. The call to affirm Aboriginal and treaty rights was heard loud and clear among politicians.

The Constitution Express was one of many actions taking place. First Nations, Métis and Inuit groups were also forming alliances, meeting with decision makers, making written submissions and building public support around the world.

(The historical photo transitions to a photo of Queen Elizabeth II signing the Proclamation of the Constitution Act, 1982 on Parliament Hill. The scene transitions to a large collage of various historical photos of the protest groups.)

Aboriginal and treaty rights were confirmed in the Constitution in 1982, thanks to people who spoke up and took action to inspire the change they wanted to see.

(The screen turns to white as the Elections Canada logo appears, with a message reading “This video has been developed by Elections Canada as part of an educational resource for secondary students”, followed by the contact information for Elections Canada. The website listed is www.electionsanddemocracy.ca. The phone number listed is 1-800-463-6868. The TTY phone number listed is 1-800-361-8935.)