Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Why Canada is not legally a 'state'

By Ieri’wa:onni and MNN

Mohawk Nation News Staff

MNN. Sept. 2001. Since the dawn of time, we Indigenous people have been conscious that we exist as part of the natural world. We belong to the land. We co-exist with the animals and vegetation that sustained our ancestors and that continue to sustain us today. We are born or adopted into clans. These form the foundation of our nations. Our society is based on equality, where everybody has a voice. Our constitution, Kaianereh:kowa [Great Law of Peace], embodies these relations. This is the law of the portion of Onowaregeh, Turtle Island, which has been put into our trust.

Before European “visitors” floated over the ocean and stumbled onto our shores, we formed a federation according to the Kaianerehkowa. The Rotinoshonni:onwe Confederacy is made up of Mohawks, Oneidas, Onondagas, Cayuga, Seneca and Tuscarora. Hundreds of Indigenous nations formed alliances with us and became our friends and allies.

No non-Indigenous nation ever joined our confederacy or accepted to live according to our constitution. Though a few individual Europeans have been adopted into our society, most have proven unwilling or unable to live according to the social, political and economic philosophy of the Rotinoshonni:onwe.

All Euro-Canadians know and understand that we were here, on Onowaregeh, first. The Supreme Court of Canada has acknowledged this fact as part of Canadian law. We did a lot of work to create the paradise that the Europeans found when they arrived. So far Canadians do not understand or acknowledge that we never agreed to join their colonial regime or to give up our original law or nationality.

We did form nation-to-nation alliances with various European colonists. Some of our nations were allies of the British during many famous battles. However, we were NEVER British subjects. We always dealt with colonial visitors as an independent political organization. We even sent ambassadors abroad as seen in the famous paintings of the “Indian Kings” who visited the court of England’s Queen Anne in 1710.

The internationally accepted legal definition of a “state” was established by the Montevideo Convention of 1933. Article 1 states that: “The state as a person of international law should possess the following qualifications: a ) a permanent population; b ) a defined territory; c ) government; and d) capacity to enter into relations with the other states.” We have a permanent population, a defined territory, and an established capacity to enter into relations with other states. THE ROTINOSHONNI:ONWE CONFEDERACY IS LEGALLY A STATE.

Under international law, as set out in United Nations Resolution 1541XV, and confirmed by the International Court in the Western Sahara case, relations between peoples may be organized on the basis of independence, free association or incorporation. No state may legally incorporate another without the free and informed consent of the majority of the population as expressed in a free and fair election.

This standard was endorsed by the Supreme Court of Canada in the Reference re the Secession of Quebec. Quebec could not separate from Canada without the consent of a clear majority of its people in response to a clear question. Quebec had been fully incorporated into Canada because it plays a major role in Canadian institutions. It’s elected representatives agreed to join with other British colonies to form Canada. It has representatives in Parliament and on the Supreme Court. It has supplied many Canadian Prime Ministers. The Rotinoshonni:onwe Confederacy never agreed to join Canada. It has no representation in Canada’s parliament or on Canadian courts. Between 1876 and 1951 Canadian law excluded “Indians” from the definition of a “person”. THE ROTINOSHONNI:ONWE CONFEDERACY HAS NEVER BEEN LEGALLY INCORPORATED INTO CANADA AND REMAINS INDEPENDENT.

When the Rotinoshonni:onwe Confederacy first established diplomatic relations with European colonists, the Europeans were organized in monarchical states. The people were called “subjects”. Under British law, the relationship between the subject and the monarch was considered to be a personal bond. The subject owed the monarch obedience and in return the monarch owed the subject protection. You could become a subject either by conquest or by swearing an oath of allegiance. The Rotinoshonni:onwe were never conquered. Only a few eccentric or deluded individuals ever voluntarily swore an oath of allegiance to the British Crown. THE ROTINOSHONNI:ONWE NEVER BECAME BRITISH SUBJECTS. The Rotinoshonni:onwe Confederacy has issued its own passports since the international passport convention was passed in 1920.

The “Dominion of Canada” was formally established when Britain’s Parliament passed the British North America Act, 1867. It was founded to promote the interests of the British Empire as part of an administrative re-organization that united some of the colonies established on Onowaregeh. (British North America Act, 1867, Preamble).

A “Dominion” is legally defined under British law as “a colony”. The people of the colonies that joined the Canadian confederation remained “British subjects”. The Queen of England remains the Queen of Canada. Britain continued to manage all international matters. Britain has only authorized Canada to conduct international relations on behalf of “the empire” (British North America Act, 1867, s. 132). All treaties signed with Indigenous peoples on Onowaregeh were negotiated on behalf of the British monarch. Canada did not sign any international treaty until Britain allowed it to sign the Halibut Treaty with the United States in 1923. CANADA DID NOT BEC0ME AN INDEPENDENT STATE IN 1867.

Britain’s “Dominions”, which also included Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, contributed so much money and lives during World War I (1914-1918) that they wanted more control over their imperial obligations even though they did not want to leave the British Empire. The Balfour Declaration of 1926 gave them equality with Britain under the monarch. This became British law when Britain’s Parliament passed the Statute of Westminster in 1931.

Canada and the other “Dominions” remained under the same British monarch and legal system. Their passports continued to be issued by the British monarch. Canadian citizenship was not established as a legal status until 1947. Britain’s parliament kept the power to change Canada’s constitution and Canadians remained British subjects.

In 1982 Britain’s parliament renamed the British North America Act, 1867 as the Constitution Act, 1867. Britain gave Canada permission to amend its constitution by passing the Canada Act, 1982 and appending Canada’s Constitution Act, 1982. It took effect on January 1st, 1983. Britain formally terminated “British Subject status” without the informed consent of the Canadian people. According to the Preamble to Canada’s Constitution Act, 1867, CANADA IS STILL LEGALLY PART OF THE BRITISH EMPIRE.

The Rotinoshonni:onwe Confederacy never gave possession of any territory to any European people. The Kaianerehkowa does not allow this because the land is held in trust for the coming generations. The Rotinoshonni:onwe cannot speak for the other nations of Onowaregeh. There is no evidence that any of them ever gave their free and informed consent to come under British dominion or to become British subjects.

According to s.91(24) of the British North America Act, 1867, the British monarch gave Canada’s parliament authority to make laws regarding “Indians, and Lands reserved for the Indians”. No state can give something it does not possess. Britain only possessed authority to make alliances and agreements with the people it called “Indians”. Britain did not own any land on Onowaregeh. So s.91(24) only grants Canada authority to negotiate with “Indians” concerning international relations and land use. The Rotinoshonni:onwe never ceded any land or authority to Canada.

The Charter of the Hudson’s Bay Company was issued by the British monarch. It granted protection for a British trading monopoly. It could not grant land on Onowaregeh because the British monarch did not own any. When the Hudson’s Bay Company assets were transferred to Canada, Canada only gained a trading monopoly. It did not legally acquire any land on Onowaregeh because the Hudson Bay Company did not legally own any.

There is no evidence that Canada has any land. Canada does not meet the requirements of the Montevideo Convention. CANADA IS NOT A “STATE” ACCORDING TO THE PRINCIPLES OF INTERNATIONAL LAW.


1. Canada does not have a permanent population. The people it claims as citizens are transients who come and go. They are not a “nation”. “Nationality” is not defined in international law. European dictionaries define “nationality” as having a common birth and parentage. Canadians come from all over the world. They have no common origin or heritage to distinguish them from other human beings in general. Most have in common the experience of settling on our territory without legal permission from us. Canada’s exploitive and environmentally destructive habits prove that few have any commitment to future generations.

2. Canada does not have a “government” of its own. Its constitution acts of 1867 and 1982 are acts of the British Parliament. Its other constitutional documents are proclamations of the British monarch.

3. Canada does not have a territory. None of our land that it claims was legally ceded to Britain. We never agreed to become part of the British Empire or the Canadian state.

So quit your bitchin’ Canada! Face the facts of life. Every square inch of land you’re standing on is ours. We are holding it in trust for our future generations. You have no authority over us or our land. You can only boss around your subjects. No us! Stop attacking us! Just about everything you’re doing is illegal!

We ask you “How did you get authority over us and our land?” If you are honest, you will have to answer, “Legally, we don’t. We have some bad habits. We have to stop threatening, assaulting, abusing, jailing and killing you. We have to stop lying to you and about you. We have to learn how to follow the laws and live like civilized people.”

Ieri’wa:onni and MNN Staff

Please Note. It’s becoming critical for legal actions to be taken to protect our rights. We have no funds. If you can donate anything to our cause, it will be greatly appreciated. Donate to PayPal,, or “MNN Mohawk Nation News”, Box 991, Kahnawake [Quebec, Canada] J0L 1B0. Nia:wen.

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