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Canada's early national policy was similar to the U.S.'s early policy: destruction of indigenous structures of leadership and governance; imposition of Western institutions (education etc) to force assimilation into Westernized socio-cultural standards; destruction of indigenous religious/spiritualistic practices to eliminate conflict with Christianity.
Canada's current policy has taken a 360 degree turn as expressed in "The Government of Canada's Approach to Implementation of the Inherent Right and the Negotiation of Aboriginal Self-Government" as updated in 2010. Now, Canada recognizes self-governance of indigenous peoples as an inherent (nonnegotiable, inalienable) right. This recognition is expressed in this document as follows:
Part I - Policy Framework
The Inherent Right of Self-Government is a Section 35 Right
The Government of Canada recognizes the inherent right of self-government as an existing Aboriginal right under section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982. It recognizes, as well, that the inherent right may find expression in treaties, and in the context of the Crown's relationship with treaty First Nations. Recognition of the inherent right is based on the view that the Aboriginal peoples of Canada have the right to govern themselves in relation to matters that are internal to their communities, integral to their unique cultures, identities, traditions, languages and institutions, and with respect to their special relationship to their land and their resources.
I think the mere idea that the Canadians recognize those who were living on that land before the arrival of European settlers as being members of the "First Nation" is very telling of their national attitude. The United States hasn't found any alternative to continued use of Columbus's designation, based on his mistaken geographical assumptions, of the natives as "Indians".
Yes, I can see the territory of Nunavat as a definite concrete example of the differing ways in which these two governments have responded to indigenous people groups. The fact that there is no recognised territory or state in the same way in the US is a clear indication of the way in which historically the US has failed to respect the indigenous people groups that were there long before Europeans ever set foot on American soil.
Although one doesn't automatically think of Canada as a place where tensions between original peoples and colonizers existed on anything like the same scale as in the United States, apparently some native people in Canada do feel that they have been badly mistreated, especially in education, and the Canadian government has even apologized for some aspects of the treatment the native population has suffered.
My impression is that Canada has given its indigenous people much more power over their lives and more, for want of a better word, respect. They have created the whole territory of Nunavut that is largely a First Nations entity. There is no analagous entity in the United States.
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