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

1

Join a national protest

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

2

Donate money

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

3

Bring food

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

4

Provide support

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

5

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

1

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. 

2

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. 

3

Set up an action committee

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

4

Coordinate activities

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

5

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

1

Educate others

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

2

Take it to the world

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

3

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.”

4

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. 

5

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

1

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. 

2

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. 

3

Meet with the Governor General

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

4

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. 

5

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.

6

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.