Jagmeet Singh, the Leader of the New Democratic Party, is promising to formally recognize the hereditary sovereigns of indigenous governments that pre-date colonial Canada, if he is given a majority government in the federal election held on September 20th.
The move would be a profound leap forward on the issue of indigenous reconciliation and would be likely to instigate sweeping new changes in the federal judiciary’s treatment of indigenous people.
“By formally recognizing our sovereigns, Canada acknowledges that the tenants of international law should be applied to indigenous people on an equal basis as non-indigenous people, which would begin to peel back the colonial and Christian-supremacist constructs of federal Indian law,” one Indian lawyer explains to The Chronicle.
Property law in North America emanates from the Doctrine of Christian Discovery, a canon of construction that subordinates aboriginal property rights to Christians who merely see and claim those lands.
“Sovereign governments have the capacities of self-government and sovereign immunity, capacities that emanate entirely independently from and predate Canadian confederation by many hundreds of years,” he explains. “Recognizing indigenous sovereigns recognizes the continuity of their governments, their institutions, and bodies of law that evolve entirely separately from the Magna Carta.”
“It’s time to stop treating indigenous folks like wards of the state, and start treating these nations as equal partners, with all the capacities of sovereignty in their own right,” he adds. “Diplomacy, not dependency.”
Singh is expected to roll out the commitment on the campaign trail in the coming weeks.