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Nature's Law
Spiritual Life, Governance, Culture, Traditions, Resources, Context and Background
The Heritage Community Foundation, Alberta Law Foundation and Albertasource.ca
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About

Visual representation of nature's laws


The Project | Personnel | Goals and Objectives

Project Goals and Objectives

The benefits for Aboriginal Canadians, the legal establishment and all Canadians are numerous.  At the moment, confusion prevails with respect the range of Aboriginal issues, whether Treaty based or not.  Canadian Courts have been challenged to apply certain constitutional provisions, secular in nature—such as equality rights.  The ancient group rights of First Canadians are frequently characterized as race-based individual equality rights dispensed at the pleasure of the Crown.  The intent of the Nature's Laws project was to undertake a serious exploration of the concept of Nature’s Law and traditional governance to:

  • Provide people of First Nations ancestry in Alberta and Canada with a deeper understanding of the traditional legal code and its governance
     
  • Begin to develop a body of knowledge around individual and group rights and privileges within societies governed through Nature’s Laws
     
  • Initiate a comparison between relevant western common law and Nature’s Law provisions respecting the rights of individuals and groups
     
  • throw light on the complex area of Aboriginal and Treaty rights, Royal Proclamation rights and the other rights and freedoms including property rights, customary laws, governmental and other institutions of the First Peoples possessed and retained by them subsequent to contact and settlement

The project involves the transcription and documenting of  the concept of Nature’s Law beginning with governance and citizenship.  The result is a range of scholarly and publicly accessible works to help educate all Canadians. The overall objectives of the project are to:

  • increase understanding of and respect and tolerance for the rights pertaining to First Canadian peoples and the relationship of such to Nature’s Law
     
  • bring First Nation communities together in a common quest to understand the relationship between God, the laws of creation, their interdependencies, the role of community and the legal space a community requires to express and perpetuate the best of itself through its laws, customs, practices, ceremonies, protocols and institutions.

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms asserts:  "Canada is founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law".  As attested to in R. v. Delgamuukw, oral customary law has been recognized as relevant evidence in the determining Aboriginal rights. Clearly, the "rule of law" spoken about in the Charter also embodies Nature’s Law, that is the traditional means by which First Nation Peoples governed themselves.

It is important, given the knowledge of Elders about traditional values and practices, that their evidence, particularly concerning customary laws, be preserved in a form that will allow for its admissibility in a court of law.  Many benefits will result.  This will serve as the basis for determining legal rights and provide communities with access to a written body of knowledge pertaining to its own laws and customs.  It will level the playing field as law and litigation is a rich man’s game and First Canadians face incredible odds when up against the nearly unlimited resources of the State. 

The work will facilitate learning and understanding of Native culture.  The materials can be used in curriculum developed by First Nation communities as well as the Program of Studies of Alberta Learning.  Historically, the damage of assimilation and termination policies was done to First Canadian peoples through educational institutions often run by religious institutions acting as agents for the Crown.  Now, educational institutions must play a leading role in restoring to First Canadians their knowledge as to who and what they are.  The project will focus on the customary law around membership and governance.  These are the two most pressing issues facing First Nation communities today.  American case law recognizes governance and citizenship as key planks to any meaningful exercise of tribal sovereignty.  In 1995, the Government of Canada in its inherent rights policy recognized these two subject matters as areas for the absolute jurisdiction of tribal governments.

The Project | Personnel | Goals and Objectives
 

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