First Nations leader explores impact of Charter on Aboriginals

April 17, 2012 - 4:52pm

A First Nations leader analyzed the relationship between the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and Aboriginal people at a Saskatoon event on Tuesday hosted by the Saskatchewan branch of the Canadian Bar Association.

Elijah Harper, known for blocking the Meech Lake Accord vote back in 1990 as a Manitoba MLA, spoke about the need to educate aboriginals about the Charter.

"A lot of the issues dealing with Aboriginal people are laws that don't really reflect our values," said Harper.

"I know that many Aboriginal people don't think in terms of the charter. I believe most of them wouldn't even know what the charter is."

Harper also slammed the Indian Act, calling it a colonial document.

"It violates human rights and it doesn't belong within Canada or even within government. I always felt that the Indian Act should have been an act that would have established a true relationship between our people," said Harper.

His vision for the future includes implementing a third order of government to represent Aboriginal people at the constitutional table.

Harper started out as Minister of Northern Affairs responsible for Native Affairs in 1987. He went on to become a Manitoba MLA from 1990 to 1992, and a Liberal MP in 1993.