Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and Jean Chrétien (Minister of INAC), established the White Paper which proposed to eliminate “Indian” as a distinct legal status – therefore making First Nations “equal” to other Canadians. They also proposed to dismantle the Department of Indian Affairs, repeal the Indian Act, and eradicate all treaties between First Nations and Canada. Chrétien and Trudeau saw the White Paper as a way of eliminating the rising cost of administering Indian Affairs and treaty responsibilities.
The backlash to the 1969 White Paper was monumental. Many felt the document overlooked concerns raised during consultations and appeared to be a final attempt to assimilate Indigenous peoples into the Canadian population.
Harold Cardinal, a Cree leader rejected the White Paper by publishing the document Citizens Plus, which became known as the Red Paper. Public demonstrations and marches would be held rebuking Trudeau’s White Paper, demanding fair and appropriate action on Indigenous issues. This movement would be called “Red Power.”
In response, Trudeau withdrew the White Paper in 1970 and angrily stated: “We’ll keep them in the ghetto as long as they want.” - The Canadian Encyclopedia
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