Potential Response Guide: Aboriginal and Treaty Rights in Canada’s Constitution

There is no single set of correct answers to the case study card placement activity in Civic Action: Then and Now. Many cards could comfortably fit in more than one category: the discussion and reasoning are more important than the answer.

However, here is one possible set of responses that may be helpful to teachers.

Participating as an Individual


Join a national protest

Individuals gave up several days to travel by train from Vancouver to Ottawa to protest on Parliament Hill. 


Donate money

Individuals donated money to cover the $90,000 cost of renting two trains to bring protesters from Vancouver to Ottawa. 


Bring food

At stops along the way, people brought food and gifts for the train passengers to help them on their journey.


Provide support

The Mayor of Ottawa personally welcomed protestors who arrived by train. 


Step up as a leader

George Manuel, president of the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs, came up with the idea of the “Constitution Express” train. 

Working Together as a Group


Bring leaders together

Hundreds of chiefs and elders from all provinces and territories (except Alberta) held the first All Canada Chiefs Assembly so they could work together on constitutional issues. 


Create a way for people to take part

The Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs rented two trains to bring groups of protesters from Vancouver to Ottawa. 


Set up an action committee

The Inuit Committee on National Issues was created to present Inuit views on Canada’s Constitution. 


Coordinate activities

First Nations groups arranged marches on Parliament Hill and at provincial legislatures. 


Create a new national organization

The National Indian Brotherhood changed the way it was organized and became the Assembly of First Nations. 

Building Public Support


Educate others

First Nations activists organized a campaign to educate the public about Aboriginal and Treaty Rights. 


Take it to the world

First Nations leaders travelled to Britain, Europe and the United Nations to tell an international audience about their cause. 


Make it visible

About 1,000 First Nations protesters attracted attention by travelling from Vancouver to Ottawa aboard a train they called the “Constitution Express.”


Talk to the media

When the “Constitution Express” train arrived in Ottawa, First Nations activists spoke with journalists who spread the word about Aboriginal rights. 


Build community awareness

The Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs organized workshops across the province to educate First Nations communities about rights and treaty issues.

Working Through the Political System


Lobby British lawmakers

Over 200 First Nations Chiefs travelled to England to meet British parliamentarians and convince them that Aboriginal rights needed to be protected. 


Make presentations

First Nations, Métis and Inuit groups made many formal written and verbal presentations to the Canadian parliamentary committee that was working on the Constitution. 


Meet with the Governor General

On behalf of the National Indian Brotherhood, National Chief Noel Starblanket met with the Governor General of Canada. 


Petition the Queen

First Nations Chiefs took a petition to Queen Elizabeth (as head of state) to ask her and the British government to delay patriating the Constitution. 


Discuss with Canadian decision makers

First Nations, Métis and Inuit leaders met with politicians and government officials at all levels to express their concerns about the wording of the Constitution.


Work with elected representatives

Aboriginal activists asked Peter Ittinuar, the only Inuk member of Parliament, to arrange meetings with key decision makers on Parliament Hill.