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Indigenous Sovereignty: Comprehensive Land Claims Policy (1986)

"In the aftermath of the 1973 Supreme Court of Canada decision in the case of Calder v. the Attorney General of British Columbia, the tradition of treaty-making was renewed in the form of a comprehensive land claims policy" (5).

"The purpose of settlement agreements is to provide certainty and clarity of rights to ownership and use of land and resources in those areas of Canada where aboriginal title has not been dealt with by treaty or superseded by law. . . . In this process the claimant group will receive defined rights, compensation and other benefits in exchange for relinquishing rights relating to the title claimed over all or part of the land in question. However, it is recognized that land claims negotiations are more than real estate transactions. . . . aboriginal people and the Government of Canada will want to ensure that the continuing interests of claimants in settlement areas are recognized" (9).

"Above all other issues, the requirement that aboriginal groups agree to the extinguishment of all aboriginal rights and title as part of a claims settlement has provoked strong reactions from aboriginal people. The federal government has examined this feature of the former policy carefully and has concluded that alternatives to extinguishment may be considered provided that certainty in respect of lands and resources is established. Acceptable options are:
(1) the cession and surrender of aboriginal title throughout the settlement area in return for the grant to the beneficiaries of defined rights in specified or reserved areas and other defined rights applicable to the entire settlement area; or
(2) the cession and surrender of aboriginal title in non-reserved areas, while:

  • allowing any aboriginal title that exists to continue in specified or reserved areas;
  • granting to beneficiaries defined rights applicable to the entire settlement area" (11-12).

"The federal government is committed to seek, in the multilateral forum, agreement among all parties for constitutional protections for aboriginal rights, including the right to self-government" (1).

"[O]ur approach is to respond to community initiatives. We are not formulating the prescriptions for change. Rather, we are consulting with Indian peoples on our policies and we are assisting Indian communities to develop their own approaches on self-government. We are assisting Indian people to reposition themselves within Confederation" (4).

"A number of communities have indicated that they would like to pursue comprehensive self-government arrangements which would move them beyond the limits of the Indian Act. They have offered proposals relating to such things as the structures and institutions of self-government, membership, jurisdiction over land and resources and the environment, language, culture, and education; health and social services; child welfare; and economic development. We are now working with these communities to develop proposals to the point where we can begin more detailed and concrete negotiations" (6).

"We expect to be involved in the development of an array of governmental and financial arrangements to suit individual communities, but always within the broadly-defined parameters of Canadian constitutional and governmental practice" (7).