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Treaties 1 and 2

Treaties 1 and 2 were the first of 11 Numbered Treaties negotiated between 1871 and 1921. Treaty 1 was signed 3 August 1871 between Canada and the Anishinabek and Swampy Cree of southern Manitoba. Treaty 2 was signed 21 August 1871 between Canada and the Anishinaabe of southern Manitoba (see Eastern Woodlands Indigenous Peoples). From the perspective of Canadian officials, treaty making was a means to facilitate settlement of the West and the assimilation of Indigenous peoples into Euro-Canadian society (see Treaties with Indigenous Peoples in Canada). Indigenous peoples sought to protect their traditional lands and livelihoods while securing assistance in transitioning to a new way of life. Treaties 1 and 2 encapsulate these divergent aims, leaving a legacy of unresolved issues due to the different understandings of their Indigenous and Euro-Canadian participants.

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Charlottetown Accord

The Charlottetown Accord of 1992 was a failed attempt by Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and all 10 provincial premiers to amend the Canadian Constitution. The goal was to obtain Quebec’s consent to the Constitution Act, 1982. The Accord would have recognized Quebec as a distinct society; decentralized many federal powers to the provinces; addressed the issue of Indigenous self-government; and reformed the Senate and the House of Commons. The Accord had the approval of the federal government and all 10 provincial governments. But it was rejected by Canadian voters in a referendum on 26 October 1992.

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Ontario Schools Question

The Ontario schools question was the first major schools issue to focus on language rather than religion. In Ontario, French or French-language education remained a contentious issue for nearly a century, from 1890 to 1980, with English-speaking Catholics and Protestants aligned against French-speaking Catholics.

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Prime Minister of Canada

The prime minister (PM) is the head of the federal government. It is the most powerful position in Canadian politics. Prime ministers are not specifically elected to the position; instead, the PM is typically the leader of the party that has the most seats in the House of Commons. The prime minister controls the governing party and speaks for it; names senators and senior judges for appointment; and appoints and dismisses all members of Cabinet. As chair of Cabinet, the PM controls its agenda and greatly influences the activities and priorities of Parliament. In recent years, a debate has emerged about the growing power of prime ministers, and whether this threatens other democratic institutions.

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Crime

Crime in modern societies can be defined officially as acts or omissions prohibited by law and punishable by sanctions. Although crime is sometimes viewed broadly as the equivalent of antisocial, immoral and sinful behaviour or as a violation of any important group standard, no act is legally a crime unless prohibited by law. Conceptions of crime vary widely from culture to culture; only treason (disloyalty to the group) and incest are condemned virtually universally, but they were not always treated as crimes.

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Red River Resistance

The Red River Resistance (also known as the Red River Rebellion) was an uprising in 1869–70 in the Red River Colony. The resistance was sparked by the transfer of the vast territory of Rupert’s Land to the new Dominion of Canada. The colony of farmers and hunters, many of them Métis, occupied a corner of Rupert’s Land and feared for their culture and land rights under Canadian control. The Métis mounted a resistance and declared a provisional government to negotiate terms for entering Confederation. The uprising led to the creation of the province of Manitoba, and the emergence of Métis leader Louis Riel — a hero to his people and many in Quebec, but an outlaw in the eyes of the Canadian government.

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Quebec Biker War (1994–2002)

The Quebec Biker War was an almost decade-long territorial conflict between two outlaw motorcycle gangs in Quebec: the Hells Angels and the Rock Machine. The war centred on control over the narcotics trade in Quebec. It was also driven by intense rivalries and deep-seated animosities between major figures in Quebec’s criminal underworld. (See Organized Crime.) The conflict involved over 80 bombings, some 130 cases of arson and 20 disappearances. More than 160 people were killed and over 200 were injured, including many innocent bystanders.

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Indian Act

The Indian Act is the primary law the federal government uses to administer Indian status, local First Nations governments and the management of reserve land. It also outlines governmental obligations to First Nations peoples. The Indian Act pertains to people with Indian Status; it does not directly reference non-status First Nations people, the Métis or Inuit. First introduced in 1876, the Act subsumed a number of colonial laws that aimed to eliminate First Nations culture in favour of assimilation into Euro-Canadian society. A new version of the Act was passed in 1951, and since then, has been amended several times, most significantly in 1985, with changes mainly focusing on the removal of discriminatory sections. It is an evolving, paradoxical document that has enabled trauma, human rights violations and social and cultural disruption for generations of Indigenous peoples.

This is the full-length entry about the Indian Act. For a plain language summary, please see Indian Act (Plain Language Summary).

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Indian Act (Plain-Language Summary)

The Indian Act was first created in 1876. A new version was created in 1951. Since then, the Act has been revised several times. The main goal of the Act was to force First Nations peoples to lose their culture and become like Euro-Canadians. The Indian Act does not affect either the Métis or Inuit.

(This article is a plain-language summary of the Indian Act. If you are interested in reading about this topic in more depth, please see our full-length entry, Indian Act.)

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​Québec solidaire

Québec solidaire is a progressive, left-wing provincial political party officially formed on 4 February 2006 in Montreal. Its key principles and values are the environment, social justice, feminism, alter-globalization, democracy, pluralism, sovereignty and solidarity. Québec solidaire has ten members in the National Assembly of Quebec, as a result of the 2018 elections, being the third-largest party. Since May 2017, its parliamentary spokespersons are Manon Massé and Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois.

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Minimum Wage

Minimum wage is the lowest wage rate that an employer is legally permitted to pay to an employee. In Canada, provinces and territories regulate minimum wage (see Provincial Government in Canada; Territorial Government in Canada). The federal government also sets a minimum wage for employees covered by Part III of the Canada Labour Code. Minimum wage policy was originally established to protect vulnerable workers from exploitation, and it continues to be used by governments to safeguard non-unionized workers (see Labour Force; Unions).

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1972 Canada-Soviet Hockey Series (Summit Series)

For many Canadians, particularly baby boomers and Generation X, the eight-game hockey series between Team Canada and the national team of the Soviet Union in September 1972 provided the greatest moment in Canada’s sporting history. Most expected that Canada would handily defeat the Soviet Union, but this confidence quickly disappeared when Canada lost the first game. The series was tied heading into the final game in Moscow, which ended in dramatic fashion, with Paul Henderson scoring in the final seconds to give Canada the victory. The series became as much a Cold War political battle of democracy versus communism and freedom versus oppression as it was about hockey. The series had a lasting impact on hockey in Canada and abroad.

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Constitutional Law

Constitutional law is a branch of public law, the body of rules regulating the functioning of the state. At its heart is the Constitution—the supreme law of Canada—which comprises written, statutory rules, plus rules of the common law (a living body of law that evolves over time through decisions of the courts), and also conventions derived from British constitutional history. The conventions themselves are recognized by the courts but are not, strictly speaking, part of constitutional law.

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Order of Canada

The Order of Canada, the highest level of distinction in the Canadian Honours System, was established on 1 July 1967, the 100th anniversary of Confederation. Any Canadian may be appointed a Member (CM), Officer (OC) or Companion (CC) of the Order in recognition of outstanding achievements or exemplary contributions in any sector of Canadian society. Appointments to the Order of Canada are made by the Governor General on the recommendation of the Advisory Council for the Order. This body, chaired by the Chief Justice of Canada, meets twice per year to consider nominations made by members of the public. From 1967 to 2015, 6,530 people from all walks of life were appointed to the Order.

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Deschênes Commission

The Deschênes Commission (officially known as the Commission of Inquiry on War Criminals in Canada) was an independent commission of inquiry established by Prime Minister Brian Mulroney. Its purpose was to investigate accusations that alleged war criminals from the Second World War had found refuge and were living in Canada. The commission took a broad approach to its mandate, investigating war crimes as well as crimes against humanity. While war crimes had already been established as a specific kind of crime after the Second World War, crimes against humanity were not as clearly described, and therefore did not have a clear and defined punishment structure. The outcome of this report was to formalize crimes against humanity and create that framework. Specifically, the Criminal Code was amended so that war crimes would be offences under Canadian law regardless of Canada's involvement in said war. A two-part final report was completed and delivered at the end of 1986. The first part concluded that alleged Nazi war criminals were residing in Canada, but also that Canada lacked the legal means to prosecute those individuals. The second part of the report—that concerned with allegations against specific individuals—remains confidential.

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British-Inuit Peace Treaty

The British-Inuit Peace Treaty was signed at Chateau Bay, Labrador, on 21 August 1765, between Newfoundland Governor Hugh Palliser and representatives of the Inuit of central and southern Labrador. The British had suggested the treaty to resolve tensions between the Inuit and the British, support British interests and provide the Inuit with the protection of the British and certain other benefits. (See also Treaties with Indigenous Peoples in Canadaand Indigenous-British Relations Pre-Confederation.)

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Confederation

Confederation refers to the process of federal union in which the British North American colonies of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and the Province of Canada joined together to form the Dominion of Canada. The term Confederation also stands for 1 July 1867, the date of the creation of the Dominion. (See also Canada Day.) Before Confederation, British North America also included Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island, British Columbia, and the vast territories of Rupert’s Land (the private domain of the Hudson’s Bay Company) and the North-Western Territory. Beginning in 1864, colonial politicians (now known as the Fathers of Confederation) met and negotiated the terms of Confederation at conferences in Charlottetown, Quebec City and London, England. Their work resulted in the British North America Act, Canada’s Constitution. It was passed by the British Parliament. At its creation in 1867, the Dominion of Canada included four provinces: Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec and Ontario. Between then and 1999, six more provinces and three territories joined Confederation.

(This is the full-length entry about Confederation. For a plain language summary, please see Confederation (Plain Language Summary).)

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Commonwealth

The Commonwealth of Nations is made up of 56 countries, including Canada, that were for the most part once part of the British Empire. They work together on international policy and hold a major sports event every four years. It is one of the world’s oldest political associations of states.

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Persons Case

The Persons Case (Edwards v. A.G. of Canada) was a constitutional ruling that established the right of women to be appointed to the Senate. The case was initiated by the Famous Five, a group of prominent women activists. In 1928, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that women were not “persons” according to the British North America Act (now called the Constitution Act, 1867). Therefore, they were ineligible for appointment to the Senate. However, the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council reversed the Court’s decision on 18 October 1929. The Persons Case enabled women to work for change in both the House of Commons and the Senate. It also meant that women could no longer be denied rights based on a narrow interpretation of the law.