I did not get to know Happy Charles when she was living in La Ronge. I had heard of her from time to time, but I met her only a handful of times.
She seemed pretty normal to me as she chatted with one of my friends, whom I cannot remember, and then she went on her way. I must have been in my early 20s. Happy and I, may be close to the same age, I am 45 tears old right now.
I actually thought they would have located her not long after she went missing. I personally thought she was visiting a remote reserve and staying with friends. I did not think it would become over two years since she went missing.
In one of my classes at Nortep/Norpac, we have been learning about Indigenous Law and it mainly deals with understanding the concepts of Aboriginal law. It’s a vibrant class with much discussion on current events and the impact on Aboriginals and mainstream society.
We were asked to do a case commentary on Metis or Tsilhqot’in cases from 2014. I chose to do Tsilhqot’in Nation v. British Columbia because many of the students had already chosen the Metis decision.
A few weeks earlier, I watched several videos of the case and viewed mainly interviews of First Nations people and how pleased and excited they were over the victory in the Supreme Court of Canada. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z4D85H7lQxE
The Tsilhqot’in Nation have title on 1750 square KM of land west of Williams Lake. Good stuff.
I learned many important facts in this class pertaining to Aboriginal law. Studying for the final exam gave me much insight on the issues we face as First Nations people and other aboriginal groups. I enjoyed the many subjects in this class and they provide relevance to many of my other classes.
Here is an example of what was expected on our final exam (I do not provide my answers here):
Chapter 5: Crown Obligations
The Honour of the Crown – 3 distinct branches of Crown obligations: Treaty Obligations, Fiduciary Duty and Duty to Consult
Chapter 7: Metis Rights
The Court identified three broad factors: self-identification, ancestral connection to the historic Métis community, and community acceptance.
The difference between Metis Rights and Treaty Rights
Chapter 8: Federalism/Constitutional Issues
The Implications of the Division of Powers on Aboriginal Peoples.
How to amend the constitution
Chapter 9: Aboriginal Women
What are the ways aboriginal women have been discriminated against by the Canadian Government?
Chapter 10: Child Welfare
Contemporary Realities, Best Interest of the Child, Challenges of Aboriginal Control, Customary Child and Family Relations
Chapter 12: Aboriginal People and the Criminal Justice
The Failure of Criminal Law for Aboriginal Peoples, Aboriginal Traditions and Justice, Reforming the Criminal Justice System, Aboriginal Justice Systems, High incarceration rate
All these subjects are very important in our immediate current events of Aboriginal people. I’m glad I decided to go back to classes because I lost sight of many things regarding our struggles as First Nations people.
We need to learn to move on from the past transgressions and thrive as a people once again. Hate and distain from our past wounds only serves to undermine our progress. However, it is important to know what happened to us and what is happening now to assert ourselves and to get on with our lives.