The recent decision of the Supreme Court of Canada in Tsilhqot’in Nation is a major milestone in the reconciliation of Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians. In declaring Aboriginal title for the plaintiffs, the Court is reaffirming its commitment to take the rights of Aboriginal people in Canada seriously. This paper contextualizes this milestone in a broader history of the recognition of Indigenous land rights by the colonial legal system, and concludes that at least in Canada’s case, the systematic denial of those rights is a more recent phenomenon that departs from broader historical practices. The paper also argues that this declaration of Aboriginal title is only one step forward in a much longer journey toward reconciliation. It argues that a more robust reconciliation cannot take place without a more serious engagement of the Canadian legal system with Indigenous legal orders. an example from laws on burial sites is considered, and Canadian law’s treatment of Indigenous legal orders is compared with the common law’s co-existence with ecclesiastical law in England. The paper suggests that the English example provides useful guidance for the development of Canadian law.
"The Law of the Land: New Jurisprudence on Aboriginal Title."
The Supreme Court Law Review: Osgoode’s Annual Constitutional Cases Conference
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