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Indigenous land claims in Canada

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Indigenous peoples in Canada demand to have their land rights and their Aboriginal titles respected by the Canadian government. These outstanding land claims are some of the main political issues facing Indigenous peoples today.[1][2]

The Government of Canada started recognizing Indigenous land claims in 1973. Federal policy divided the claims in two categories: comprehensive claims and specific claims. Comprehensive claims deal with Indigenous rights of Métis, First Nations and Inuit communities that did not sign treaties with the Government of Canada. Specific claims, on the other hand, are filed by First Nations communities over Canada's breach of the Numbered Treaties, the Indian Act or any other agreements between the Crown and First Nations.[3]

Comprehensive claims


Comprehensive claims are assertions of Aboriginal title by Indigenous groups over their ancestral lands and territories. Following the 1973 Calder decision, in which the existence of Aboriginal title was first recognized in Canadian courts, the Canadian government implemented the Comprehensive Land Claim Policy. It is through this process that claims are now negotiated, with the goal of signing a modern treaty which asserts Canadian sovereignty over unceded indigenous lands.[1][4]

The first comprehensive land claim was the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement of 1975 which was signed by the Inuit of Nunavik, the Cree of Eeyou Istchee, the Québec government, and federal government in response to the James Bay hydroelectric project.[5][6][7] As of 2017, a total of 25 modern treaties have been signed,[8] and 140 Indigenous groups are in the process of negotiating a comprehensive claim with the federal government.[2]

Specific claims


Specific claims are longstanding land claims disputes pertaining to Canada's legal obligations to indigenous communities. They are related to the administration of lands and other First Nations assets by the Government of Canada, or breaches of treaty obligations or of any other agreements between First Nations and the Crown by the government of Canada. They can also involve mismanagement or abuse of power of Indigenous lands or assets by the Crown under the Indian Act.[3] They are based on lawful obligations of the Crown toward the First Nations. First Nations cannot use Aboriginal titles or punitive damages as the basis of their claims.[9]

The government of Canada typically resolves specific claims by negotiating a monetary compensation for the breach with the band government, and in exchange, they require the extinguishment of the First Nation's rights to the land in question.[10]

Canadian political parties


When discussing the Canadian political parties ideologies in terms of their ideas for improvement within respect to land claims the Liberal Party of Canada believes that social transformations are not the way to effectively produce “entrepreneurial-subjects” due to the undermining of both Indigenous sovereignty and democracy but rather by offering alternative methods of re-acquiring land such as Self-government agreements, bilateral agreements, and the First Nations Land Management Act.[11]

When the Conservative Party of Canada was in Government in 2012 they exhibited their support of Indigenous issues by introducing a new bill that allowed Indigenous Canadians to acquire land claims more easily in an effort to support their businesses, families, etc. This bill was labeled the First Nations Property Ownership Act and was put in place with intent to start the reconciliation process between the Canadian Government and those Indigenous/First Nations people of Canada.[12]

The New Democratic Party of Canada has a number of reconciliation ideas, but when it come to ideas based on land claims and Indigenous rights there is one proposed bill that stands out from the other reconciliation ideas. Acknowledging Pre-Confederate Agreements With Indigenous Peoples bill states that when dealing with government buildings and Indigenous land, development of these buildings must be delayed until the free informed consent of Indigenous Peoples of that land has been given.[13]

When it comes to the Bloc Québecois there is a lack of information on reparations with Indigenous Peoples through land claims. Their focus is more geared towards improving the living conditions, education, and access to essential services.[14]

The Green Party of Canada exhibits their support of Indigenous land claims through supporting Indigenous citizens during protests of the Trans Mountain pipeline which is being pushed through Indigenous land without meaningful consent. By encouraging Indigenous Canadians to repossess their land using territorial disputes, the Green party has added 2.77 per cent of votes when including Indigenous candidates.[15]

See also



  1. ^ a b Gretchen Albers (April 20, 2015). "Indigenous Land Claims". The Canadian Encyclopedia. Historica Canada. Retrieved August 18, 2019.
  2. ^ a b Austen, Ian (2017-11-12). "Vast Indigenous Land Claims in Canada Encompass Parliament Hill". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-01-24.
  3. ^ a b Gretchen Albers (June 29, 2015). "Indigenous People: Specific Land Claims". The Canadian Encyclopedia. Historica Canada. Retrieved August 18, 2019.
  4. ^ Rodon, Thierry (April 1998). "Co‐management and self‐determination in Nunavut". Polar Geography. 22 (2): 119–135. doi:10.1080/10889379809377641. ISSN 1088-937X.
  5. ^ Keith Crowe (July 11, 2019). "Comprehensive Land Claims: Modern Treaties". The Canadian Encyclopedia. Historica Canada. Retrieved August 18, 2019.
  6. ^ "Nunavut Land Claims Agreement Act | Canada [1993]". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2019-01-24.
  7. ^ Papillon, Martin. 2008. “Aboriginal Quality of Life under a Modern Treaty: Lessons from the Experience of the Cree Nation of Eeyou Istchee and the Inuit of Nunavik.” IRPP Choices 14 (9).
  8. ^ "Aboriginal title: What it means for Elsipogtog First Nation". CBC News. May 11, 2019.
  9. ^ "Specific claims". Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada. 2015-01-12. Retrieved January 12, 2019.
  10. ^ "SPECIFIC CLAIMS REVIEW: EXPERT BASED ‐ PEOPLES DRIVEN" (PDF). www.afn.ca. May 15, 2015. Retrieved 2019-01-13.
  11. ^ Schmidt, Jeremy J. (2018-07-04). "Bureaucratic Territory: First Nations, Private Property, and "Turn-Key" Colonialism in Canada". Annals of the American Association of Geographers. 108 (4): 901–916. doi:10.1080/24694452.2017.1403878. ISSN 2469-4452. S2CID 158772627.
  12. ^ Pasternak, Shiri (January 2015). "How Capitalism Will Save Colonialism: The Privatization of Reserve Lands in Canada: How Capitalism Will Save Colonialism". Antipode. 47 (1): 179–196. doi:10.1111/anti.12094.
  13. ^ "Reconciliation at the heart of what we do". Canada's NDP. Retrieved 2022-04-25.
  14. ^ "Bloc Québécois". pollenize.org. Retrieved 2022-04-25.
  15. ^ Dabin, Simon; Daoust, Jean François; Papillon, Martin (March 2019). "Indigenous Peoples and Affinity Voting in Canada". Canadian Journal of Political Science/Revue Canadienne de Science Politique. 52 (1): 39–53. doi:10.1017/S0008423918000574. ISSN 0008-4239. S2CID 158942398.