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Distributed for University of British Columbia Press

Citizens Plus

Aboriginal Peoples and the Canadian State

In Citizens Plus, Alan Cairns unravels the historical record to clarify the current impasse in negotiations between Aboriginal peoples and the state. He considers the assimilationist policy assumptions of the imperial era, examines more recent government initiatives, and analyzes the emergence of the nation-to-nation paradigm given massive support by the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples. We are battered by contending visions, he argues – a revised assimilation policy that finds its support in the Canadian Alliance Party is countered by the nation-to-nation vision, which frames our future as coexisting solitudes. Citizens Plus stakes out a middle ground with its support for constitutional and institutional arrangements which will simultaneously recognize Aboriginal difference and reinforce a solidarity which binds us together in common citizenship. Selected as a BC Book for Everybody

Table of Contents



1. Empire

The Complex Problem of “Voice”

History and Humility

Empire at Home and Abroad

The Cultural Terrain over which the Battle Is Fought

How Did We Get to Where We Are?


2. Assimilation

Basic Assimilation Policy

The 1969 White Paper

Academic and Political Support

Aboriginal Support

Paternalism and the Culture of Leadership

Significance of White Paper Defeat

Preliminary Remarks



3. Choice

A Time of Transition

The Influence of the Past

The Requirements of Good Aboriginal Constitutional Policy

Assimilation versus Parallelism: Warring Paradigms

How We See Ourselves: The Discourse of Contrast

An Alternative Vision: A Modernizing Aboriginality

A Basis for Living Apart and Together

Self-Government as an Exit Option


4. The Constitutional Vision of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples

A Many-Splendoured but Problematic Report

The Constitutional Vision of RCAP

Relative Neglect of the Urban Dimension

Ancestry versus Identity

Cultural Survival versus Economic Opportunity

The Centrality of Nation

The Nation-to-Nation Approach

A Third Order of Aboriginal Government

Law, Not Politics

Representation at the Centre


5. The Choice Revisited

An Early Vision: Citizens Plus

Aboriginal Rights and Aboriginal Nations

The Opening Up of the Debate

Academic Activism and Legal Scholarship

Land Claims, Treaty Negotiations, Self-Government, and Citizenship

Political Science and “What Will Hold Us Together?”

Interdependence and Other Realiti

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