chapter  12
16 Pages

Canada’s seas and her First Nations: a colonial paradigm revisited


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Canada’s claims to the seas surrounding her – the Pacific, Atlantic and Arctic oceans – have expanded to include land and resources from three to 200 nautical miles offshore over the short span of the past 40 years. But First Nations1 occupied and utilized Canada’s shorelines and ocean spaces long before Canada’s most recent colonization. This chapter illustrates historic relationships of several First Nations in Canada to ocean spaces and discusses Canada’s current approach to ocean management and sea title from a First Nation perspective. Canada’s oceans policies are cautious about acknowledging specific aboriginal or treaty rights or prescribing a role for First Nations in ocean management and planning. This lack of direction is likely to lead to delays in implementing the Oceans Act, 19962 or uncertainty about the validity of resulting management plans if the government proceeds without substantive First Nations’ input.