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Edited by Menno Boldt and J. Anthony Long in association with Leroy Little Bear. Toronto, University of Toronto Press, c1985. 403pp, paper, ISBN 0-8020-2572 (cloth) $45.00, 0-8020-6589-9 (paper) $17.50. CIP

Grades 10 and up
Reviewed by Lois Hird

Volume 14 Number 2
1986 March

The Quest for Justice is a collection of articles that focus on issues concerning aboriginal peoples in Canada. The book is subdivided into eight sections and contains twenty-two articles written by individuals who are well-known for their work in the area. The perspectives, individual group needs, and pertinent historical background of each group, Status and Non-Status Indians, the Metis, and the Inuit, are presented. Negotiations and agreements undertaken by the government and the different groups are discussed. There is a chronological summation of the James Bay Hydroelectric Project. The usefulness of international forums, and historical and contemporary legal and judicial philosophies are also incorporated; into the text.

Each group sets out its position with respect to the 1982 Constitution. Common themes echo through these articles. They are the need for a constitutional guarantee of the meaning of aboriginal rights, and the failure to define aboriginal rights to anyone's satisfaction. In an article, Stoney Chief John Snow writes, "I also question whether it is possible to draft a single definition that will accommodate the different interests of Indian people across Canada." In the introduction, Boldt and Long call the Constitution Act "a watershed in government policy," because it placed "aboriginal peoples in a new footing in their relationship to the Canadian government," and, it also acknowledged the historic role of native Indians in Canada. In their article, which considers the relation of aboriginal rights and individual self-government, Boldt and Long state that the Canadian government is confronted with two choices: adoption of a policy of meaningful self-determination for Indian tribes, or continuation of its policy of assimilation.

The book is an ambitious project. It provides the reader with an in-depth overview of the work of organizations that formed after former Prime Minister Trudeau presented the White Paper in 1969. There is minimal use of emotional language. Government bashing does not occur. The book does not contain an index, which is unfortunate, as the articles will serve as excellent resource material. An appendix contains several pertinent acts and documents. Statements made by former Prime Minister Trudeau and Prime Minister Mulroney at the First Ministers Conferences are included in the text. There is also a map of the Indian Treaty areas. Ample notes for individual chapters are included at the end of the book.

Lois Hird, Calgary, Alta.
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