According to the 2011 National Household Survey, there were 1,400,685 Canadians who claimed Aboriginal identity, representing 4.3% of the total Canadian population (Statistics Canada, 2013). As we mention later in the chapter, the Canadian Constitution recognizes three Indigenous groups as being “Aboriginal,” the Indian, Métis, and Inuit (Government of Canada, 2016). Those who were originally referred to as “Indians” now prefer to be called First Nations. Those First Nations people on the official Indian Register in Canada are referred to as “status Indians” or “status First Nations”; however, there are many First Nations people who are considered “non-status” for a number of reasons and therefore are not subject to the Indian Act and don’t have access to the same programs and services under the Indian Act as status First Nations (Brown et al., 2016). The term Métis refers to those of “mixed First Nations and European heritage, typically of the prairies, who developed a unique culture and language (Michif) during the North American fur trade” (Brown et al., 2016, p. iv). Aboriginal peoples who have traditionally lived in the Arctic, having similar cultures, are referred to as “Inuit.” Métis and Inuit people, like non-status First Nations, are not subject to the Indian Act, legislation we will address later in the chapter (Brown et al., 2016). Throughout this chapter, we regularly use Indigenous peoples and Aboriginal peoples interchangeably. As recently stated by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, “Reconciliation starts with recognizing and respecting Aboriginal title and rights, including Treaty rights,” which he acknowledges as not only constitutional obligations, but also obligations under the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (Trudeau, 2016). These words were spoken at the Assembly of First Nations 36th Annual General Assembly and a month after the release of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission summary report and findings. Trudeau went on to further emphasize the need for a
In Canada and globally, there has been a strong movement in recent decades to recognize the rights of Indigenous people to have access to and control over their traditional lands and resources. In this chapter, we address two key questions. First, what is the nature of the Indigenous rights being recognized? Second, what role can these increased rights have in the development activities of Indigenous
people? To explore these questions, we will focus on the recognition of Indigenous Rights in Canada through international doctrines, the Constitution, the courts, and treaties. We further explore how First Nations people in Canada have expanded their rights and land through specific and comprehensive land claims and how they have also been challenged by the restrictions imposed by reserves and the Indian Act. In particular, we share a brief case study of the Fishing Lake First Nation, and their efforts to assert their inherent land rights for economic gain.