UBC Undergraduate Research

The journey of the Constitution Express to Ottawa Enns, Cassandra


The Constitutional Express was a response to the federal governments proposed changes to the Canadian Constitution in 1980. As a result of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs analysis of these proposed changes, a state of emergency was declared and First Nations from across Canada mobilized to fight against their rights being extinguished. After protests nationally and internationally, Section 35 was added to the 1982 Canadian Constitution. Section 35 provides constitutional protection to the aboriginal and treaty rights of Aboriginal peoples in Canada. There is debate concerning whether or not Section 35 positively or negatively impacts Aboriginal Rights in Canada. Despite the controversy, the Constitution Express was a significant event because it was a political movement led by grassroots participants. However, current literature focuses on the result of the Constitution Express and the leader of the movement. There is a gap regarding the mobilization of this event and the journey. This paper aims to share the story of this grassroots movement by analyzing participant’s experiences and primary sources.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada