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The Numbered Treaties and the Politics of Incoherency

  • Gina Starblanket (a1)

This article explores the role of the numbered treaties relative to the continuity of the settler colonial project in Canada. Although the treaties are often invoked to characterize the federal government's commitment toward strengthening or renewing its relationship with Indigenous peoples at a symbolic level, there remains a disjuncture between the “nation-to-nation” depictions of treaties and the complex political relationships that Indigenous peoples have called for since their signing. This article explores the inconsistent ways in which treaties have been taken up within Canadian legal and political institutions, arguing that the incoherency surrounding treaties promulgates the notion that treaties are being implemented while simultaneously obscuring, distorting and minimizing the rights of Indigenous peoples in practice. It demonstrates that the failure to engage with treaties as the locus of Indigenous peoples’ distinct political relationship with the Canadian state functions to continually produce conditions of colonization and dispossession through the denial of Indigenous sovereignty and jurisdiction as affirmed in treaties.

Cet article analyse le rôle des Traités numérotés dans la continuité du projet colonial des pionniers au Canada. Souvent invoqué pour caractériser l'engagement du gouvernement fédéral visant à renforcer ou à renouveler sa relation avec les peuples autochtones à un niveau symbolique, il subsiste une disjonction entre, d'une part, les représentations de « nation à nation » des traités et, de l'autre, les relations politiques complexes que les peuples autochtones ont réclamées depuis leur signature. L'article examine la manière incohérente dont les traités ont été adoptés au sein des institutions juridiques et politiques canadiennes, faisant valoir que l'incohérence les entourant conforte l'idée que les traités sont appliqués tout en obscurcissant, déformant et minimisant les droits des peuples autochtones dans la pratique. Il démontre que le fait de ne pas s'engager dans les traités en tant que lieu de la relation politique distincte des peuples autochtones avec l'État canadien a pour effet de produire constamment des conditions de colonisation et de dépossession par le déni de la souveraineté et de la juridiction autochtones, comme le stipulent les traités.

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Canadian Journal of Political Science/Revue canadienne de science politique
  • ISSN: 0008-4239
  • EISSN: 1744-9324
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