During the 1970s, a highly unusual government inquiry became a rallying point for Aboriginal issues in Canada and provided a rare opportunity for Natives to air long-held grievances. Oil companies planned to build a pipeline through the western Arctic, which would carry oil and gas from the Prudhoe Bay field in Alaska south through the Mackenzie River Valley to the United States.
The expectation was that the Inquiry, also called the Berger Commission, would follow the formula of many royal commissions and result in a dull, plodding, extended investigation that would demonstrate political concern but yield negligible results.
Instead, Berger held meetings in 35 northern communities, as well as several southern cities, throughout 1976. The meetings received widespread media coverage. For many Canadians, watching the Berger Commission was the first time they heard native concerns voiced by the people themselves.
In 1977, Judge Bergers final report appeared. Its strong position was that the north was a native homeland and not simply a frontier resource for the federal government. - CBC
Interactive video project : Berger Inquiry
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