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I would like to thank the organizers of this conference, especially Arif Bulkan and Velma Newton, for inviting me to speak and welcoming me to Belize.

Tom Berger has made my task much easier by presenting the philosophical and legal underpinnings for Indigenous land rights, and providing an introduction to the development of the doctrine of Aboriginal title in Canada.

I am going to try to fill in some of the detail by drawing a composite picture of Indigenous rights in the four common law jurisdictions that I am familiar with, namely Canada, the United States, Australia, and New Zealand.

I will also talk about the important 2014 decision in Tsilhqot’in Nation v. British Columbia, where the Supreme Court of Canada issued a declaration of Aboriginal title for the very first time.

At the outset, I would like to emphasize that Indigenous rights are not just rights to lands and resources – they include rights in relation to Indigenous law and governance authority.

I am going to address three main issues:
1. The source and proof of Indigenous rights;
2. The content of Indigenous rights; and
3. Extinguishment and infringement of Indigenous rights.


A paper for the Indigenous Peoples of the Caribbean Conference, IMPACT Justice, Belize City, April 27-29, 2016