On Being Here to Stay: Treaties and Aboriginal Rights in Canada by anthropologist Michael Asch, professor emeritus in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Alberta, offers readers and examination of the numbered treaties in a unique manner. He asks the questions: What, other than numbers and power, justifies Canada’s assertion of sovereignty and jurisdiction over the country’s vast territory? Why should Canada’s original inhabitants have to ask for rights to what was their land when non-Aboriginal people first arrived?
In the last two decades there has been positive change in how the Canadian legal system defines Aboriginal and treaty rights. Yet even after the recognition of those rights in the Constitution Act of 1982, the legacy of British values and institutions as well as colonial doctrine still shape how the legal system identifies and interprets Aboriginal and treaty rights. What results is a systematic bias in the legal system that places Indigenous peoples at a distinct disadvantage. The eight essays in Aboriginal and Treaty Rights in Canada focus on redressing this bias.