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Legal status
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Land claims
Special treatment
Indian title
Native organizations
Living conditions
Resource use
Legal status
Indian culture

7a) I've heard that native people have privileges and advantages that other people don't have. Why do they keep asking for more?

The "special privileges" that many non-natives point to usually concern taxation and the role of government in providing housing and education for Indian people.

Ironically, many native people regard these "special privilege" as shackles that have inhibited individual and community self-reliance - and promoted interference and paternalism by the federal government through the Department of Indian Affairs.

The current situation with respect to taxation, housing, and education of native people is rooted in past treaties. Those treaties were built up the British tradition, incarnated by the Royal Proclamation of 1763. The proclamation required recognition of Indian title and prohibited securing of land without the agreement of indigenous people. In most parts of Canada - though not in B.C. - treaties were therefore made.

7b) Why do B.C. non-treaty natives get the same treatment as treaty Indians?

Many native nations in B.C. have had certain rights extended to them by the federal government.

According to Canada's constitution, Indians are a Federal responsibility. The Provinces have not been reluctant to demand that the federal government assume the full weight of that responsibility, even for matters typically viewed as responsibilities of the Provinces, eg. education.

In the past, the federal government assumed that responsibility but because education is administered as a program of the Department of Indian Affairs, Indians found their education the concern primarily of managers and accountants rather than educators. The result has been the abysmal record noted earlier.

There are now some very complex agreements between federal and provincial governments concerning education - and health - matters and the Department of Indian Affairs no longer has total control.

7c) What about housing? Don't Indians get modern housing free of charge?

No. Many native people In B.C. carry heavy mortgages just like non-natives. The difference is that if the housing is on reserves the native family does not hold title to the land upon which the house sits.

Gerald Amos, of the Haisla, comments on the history of some of the current programs open to natives.

In years past, Canada and the Provinces developed housing programs to assist Canadians with home ownership. Indians were denied these programs and it was not until the United Nations noted the extraordinary disparity in housing levels that Canada created similar opportunities on Reserves. It had been learned that Canada had a housing standard of one home for every three and one half Canadians. Indians, on the other hand, were crowded into small homes at an average of higher than eight people and most Reserves lacked the infrastructure of water and sewer or other amenities most Canadians viewed as essential. An Indian family could move off Reserve and be immediately eligible for Provincial housing programs or Federal grants available to all Canadians meeting various requirements. The provision of similar arrangements on Reserve has prompted some to see Indians as receiving favoured treatment.