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Indigenous People and British Columbia


Aboriginal Title affirms Indigenous People as the Original People of the Land, ... law, any newcomers to the land inhabited by Indigenous People could only acquire ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Indigenous People and British Columbia

Indigenous People and British Columbia
  • History and Terminology

Aboriginal Title
  • Aboriginal Title affirms Indigenous People as the
    Original People of the Land, and as such they
    have Title and Rights to the land and its
  • Historically, the Federal and Provincial
    Governments have denied that Aboriginal Title
    exists, and have continued to exert sovereignty
    over Indigenous territories.

Union of BC Indian Chiefs Aboriginal Rights and
Title Position Paper (1978)
  • Aboriginal Title and Rights means we as Indian
    people hold Title and have the right to maintain
    our sacred connection to Mother Earth by
    governing our territories through our own forms
    of Government.

We Are NOT Going We Are NOT Gone!
  • May 25, 2000
  • Carrier-Sekani Demonstration
  • Victoria, BC

Indigenous Sovereignty
  • The inherent right of Indigenous People to
    exercise their own laws, to govern themselves,
    and their territories, and to enter relationships
    with other Nations of People.

Thunderbird Totem, Alert Bay
Newcomers and New Land
  • Under international law, any newcomers to the
    land inhabited by Indigenous People could only
    acquire land in one of two ways
  • Conquest Land is won.
  • Agreement Land is voluntarily ceded through
    treaty or sale.

Royal Proclamation 1763
  • The Royal Proclamation, 1763, affirmed in law
    that while Britain asserted sovereignty over
    Indigenous territory, they could not extinguish
    Aboriginal Title.
  • Land could not be taken unless Indigenous People
    and Crown agreed through treaty.

King George III
  • Signed Royal Proclamation
  • October 7, 1763

  • At the time of British and French arrival
    (contact) to Indigenous Territories in BC, the
    Nations signed Peace and Friendship Treaties.
  • These agreements signed on North Vancouver
    Island, were known as the Douglas Treaties and
    in North-Eastern BC, known as Treaty 8.
  • These are the only treaties in BC.

Sir James Douglas
  • Governor of Vancouver Island 1851-63.
  • Governor of BC 1858-64.
  • Douglas Treaties.

(No Transcript)
Terra Nullius Empty Land
  • The argument of the Provincial Government that
    Aboriginal Title did not exist on the grounds
    that Indigenous People were so primitive and
    uncivilized that they were incapable of holding
    Title, or having laws to govern the land.
  • Terra Nullius was used as an excuse not to sign
    treaties with Indigenous Nations.

Reserve Lands
  • Instead of entering treaties, the Canadian
    Government set up Reserve Lands. These lands are
    set aside for Indigenous People, but are held In
    Trust by Canada.
  • Indigenous People do not own Reserve Land.
  • Reserve Lands are only a fraction of Indigenous
    Peoples Aboriginal Title Territories.

Constitution Act 1867 Indians
  • Section 91(24) of the Constitution Act, 1867,
    declares that the Federal Government has
    responsibility to make decisions about Indians
    and Lands reserved for Indians.
  • Federal responsibility stems from the fact it
    represents Canada as a Nation.

Constitution Act Provinces
  • Section 109 of the Constitution Act declares that
    Provinces are only given power to make decisions
    about land and resources where these lands did
    not already have interests in them.
  • This section declares that the Province has no
    ownership over Aboriginal Title lands, because
    Indigenous People have pre-existing interests in
    the land.

Land Question
  • The Land Question is used to describe modern
    day disputes between the Provincial Government
    and Indigenous Nations on the existence of
    Aboriginal Title.

Calder Case
  • Landmark Supreme Court of Canada decision that
    determined Aboriginal Title legally exists.
  • Dr. Frank Calder, Nisgaa, defended that Nisgaa
    People have an Aboriginal Right to the resources
    of the Nass watershed because of their Aboriginal

Comprehensive Claims Policy
  • Federal Government created Comprehensive Claims
    Policy after Calder case.
  • Indigenous People extinguish Aboriginal Title to
    whole territory in return for small land base.
  • Many Indigenous People refuse to participate in
    modern land agreements.

Interior Cowichan Hatchery
Section 35(1) Constitution Act, 1982
  • Canada separates from British Crown with
    Constitution Act, 1982.
  • Section 35 (1) promises
  • The existing Aboriginal and Treaty Rights of the
    Aboriginal Peoples of Canada are hereby
    recognized and affirmed.

Delgamuukw v. British Columbia,1997
  • Groundbreaking Supreme Court of Canada unanimous
    decision that Aboriginal Title was never
    extinguished, nor could ever be extinguished.
  • More than the right to practice activities (hunt,
    fish) on land it is the right to the land.

Delgamuukw December 11, 1997 Gixtsan and
Wetsuweten People
  • 35 Gixtsan and 13 Wetsuweten Hereditary Chiefs,
  • Oral tradition included as legal evidence to
    exert Aboriginal Title.
  • Aboriginal Title applies to modern uses of Land
    (mining, forestry)

Oral Traditions
  • The passing down of knowledge, history, and laws
  • Valid form of evidence in court.
  • Equal weight to written evidence.

Potlatch Duncan, BC
Kyuoquot Fish Trap
Nass Village
School on Songhees Reserve
  • In Indigenous spiritual understanding, all the
    spirits of the world are connected in this way,
    people do not stand above the land, but at one
    with it. Unlike many world religions, sacred
    places exist on the land rather than in
    man-made structures. Losing land can mean the
    desecration of a sacred place.
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