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Land Claims Essay

978 words - 4 pages

There has been a great deal of contention over Aboriginal Rights in Canada. Much of this conflict can be said to stem from the differences in both the philosophy and cultural systems of Aboriginal and non-aboriginal people, with much of it originating from the time of the original European settlement of Canada (UBC Law, 2009). The focus of this conflict has been primarily on the rights to land, sea and resources, as well as how the law is to apply to the Aboriginal peoples of Canada (UBC Law, 2009).
Contention on law began early into the colonization period. Originally the Royal Proclamation of 1763, set by the British Crown, was in place to protect the land rights of Canadian Aboriginals ...view middle of the document...

Following this, British Columbia joined Canada in 1871, and Canada in turn assumed responsibility for Aboriginal affairs (UBC Law, 2009). By assuming jurisdiction over “Indians and lands reserved for the Indians”, the province of British Columbia could not be held accountable for issues regarding Aboriginal peoples and their right to land claims.
However, pre-existing Aboriginal laws, rights interests did not disappear upon British Columbia becoming part of Canada. In fact, they became a part of Canadian common law (UBC Law, 2009). In spite of this, Aboriginal rights remained vulnerable. Then, in 1982, section 35 of the Constitution Act was amended by the Supreme Court (UBC Law, 2009). This amendment prevented the government from being able to mitigate Aboriginal rights through legislation and further constitutional amendments (UBC Law, 2009). Because of the enactment of section 35, a great deal of protection has been placed upon Aboriginal rights and interests by the Canadian constitution (UBC Law, 2009). Much of this protection was garnered through court cases, a majority of which were brought before the Supreme Court of Canada (UBC Law, 2009).
The role of the Court in Aboriginal rights and laws has been evolving in recent years. Canadian Law is now willing to recognize the treaty rights of Aboriginal peoples, and the Canadian constitution now offers protection for those rights (UBC Law, 2009). Court decisions made by the Supreme Court in favour of Aboriginal rights have effectively prompted Aboriginal peoples to assert their rights, and they in turn have put greater pressure on both federal and provincial governments to find resolutions to the many unjust practices of the past and of today (UBC Law, 2009).

In turn, land claims of the Aboriginal peoples then become a contentious issue. Historical mistreatment of Aboriginal Land Rights, such as the Indian Act of 1876 which prevented Aboriginals from acquiring land in...

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