land claims, native

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Claims by the native peoples of Canada for the repossession of lands and self-government. These demands have been based on their rights as the original inhabitants of Canada, and on treaty obligations undertaken by the Canadian government from the 1870s to the 1920s. As a result of immigration, Canadian Indians or Inuit were often expelled from their original lands, while promises for land titles in compensation were not fulfilled. It became the central demand for the native peoples, and while after World War II they received much government assistance in maintaining their culture, improving education, and setting up businesses, the land claims remained conspicuously unresolved. Several attempts to address the issue in the 1960s failed.

 The creation of government-sponsored native peoples' pressure groups created a much stronger and more effective negotiating partner for the government. Claims were made for lands equal to half the area of Canada. Settlement of the claims was complicated by the different, often mutually exclusive demands of the different peoples, overlapping claims, and different and often contrary goals of local, provincial, and federal governments. The slow pace of progress on the matter has led to growing violence, as some native peoples took the law into their hands and offered armed resistance to the government. In 1990, the army was used to break the armed resistance of hundreds of Mohawk Indians in Oka (near Montreal) to defend what they defined as their land against commercial development. This was followed by other stand-offs, the most notable of which were those at Ipperwash and Gustavson Lake.

 Of the several hundred claims made or in the process of being made, the first few land claims were granted in the late 1980s, starting with the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement of 1985 and leading to the settlement of the largest land claim to date, the creation of Nunavut. While Inuits were granted further territories for self-rule in Northern Quebec, Labrador, and the Northern Territories, the government was less successful at responding to the manifold land claims of Canadian Indians. Under the brief Prime Ministership of Paul Martin, the concerns of native peoples were given unusual priority by the federal government. Martin's successor, Stephen Harper, was much less responsive to native land claims.Waitangi Tribunal

Waitangi Tribunal

Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945).

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