You may not be aware of this, but there is a important and heated debate going on among Indigenous communities right now. The issue at hand is a federal bill designed, ostensibly, to return control of First Nations education to the First Nations themselves.
But there’s a larger issue at play—one that those of us who are non-Indigenous would do well to pay attention to. The debate is a uniquely colonial one, the kind that is provoked when one nation refuses to give up control over what is rightfully the jurisdiction of another nation (or in this case, 633 nations). It’s impossible to understand the debate around the First Nation Education Act without an understanding of Indigenous people’s inherent and treaty rights.
What do inherent rights have to do with it?
Inherent rights are the fundamental and existing rights of Indigenous peoples, based on their original and long-standing occupation of…
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