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CAUT Bulletin Archives

May 2001

Blind Spots

Ottawa: Aboriginal Rights Coalition, 2001; 150 pp; paper $23.95 CA.
In 1990, the Oka crisis brought the issues of Aboriginal peoples to the attention of the bewildered Canadian public on a daily basis as television reports showed unforgettable images of Mohawk warriors staring down soldiers of the Canadian armed forces. Brian Mulroney's government responded with the formation of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, mandated to propose specific solutions to problems that have plagued the relationship between Aboriginal peoples, the Canadian government, and Canadian society. The commission's report, released in 1996, recommended hundreds of changes in Aboriginal/government relations and called for a new relationship with Aboriginal peoples based on mutual recognition, respect, sharing, and responsibility. Blind Spots: An Examination of the Federal Government's Response to the Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples reports on what has happened since the release of the commission's report, offering the perspectives of authors who scrutinize how the federal government has, or has not, implemented the recommendations of the commission. A number of topics are explored in this examination including colonialism, assimilationist policies, economic disparity, racism, treaty rights, Aboriginal self-determination, and others. This collection of essays addresses aspects of the relationship in which little has improved, areas in which "uneven progress" has been made, as well as where the federal government has failed entirely to respond to the Royal Commission's recommendations. One author even calls into question the genesis of the commission itself, and several chapters explore the international dimensions of Aboriginal title, land rights, and human rights.

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