Treaty/Land Claims/Self Government
1763 – The Royal Proclamation of 1763
The Royal Proclamation is a document that set out guidelines for European settlement of Aboriginal territories in what is now North America. The Royal Proclamation explicitly states that Aboriginal Title has existed and continues to exist, and that all land would be considered Aboriginal land until ceded by treaty. The Proclamation forbade settlers from claiming land from the Aboriginal occupants, unless it has been first bought by the Crown and then sold to the settlers. The Royal Proclamation further sets out that only the Crown can buy land from First Nations.
1973 – Calder Decision, Supreme Court of Canada
The Calder established the foundation for Aboriginal Title being recognized in Canadian law. Nisga’a went to the Supreme Court of Canada about the continuation of aboriginal title. The Court ruled that Aboriginal title exists but was evenly split as to whether aboriginal title has been extinguished.
1990 - Sparrow Decision, Supreme Court of Canada
The court’s ruling in 1990 outlined that the Musqueam did have an ancestral right to fish — one that hadn’t been extinguished by the Constitution. The court found that when Sparrow was arrested, he was exercising legitimate “existing” rights to fish. Therefore, his conviction was overturned and Sparrow won his case.
1997 – Delgamukw Decision, Supreme Court of Canada
The Supreme Court of Canada recognized Aboriginal title as a collective right that has an inescapable economic component. The Court set out a test for the existence of Aboriginal title but put the responsibility on First Nations to prove Aboriginal title. The Court also urged that the issue of Aboriginal title be settled through negotiated agreements.
2004 – Haida Decision, Supreme Court of Canada
The Supreme Court of Canada indicated that as long as the first impression supports the likelihood of Aboriginal title that is sufficient to require governments to consult and strive to accommodate First Nation interests even though the full blown Delgamukw Aboriginal title test is not proven
2014 - Tsilhqot’in Decision, Supreme Court of Canada
Tsilhqot’in Nation’s Aboriginal title case. All 8 judges agreed with this decision. Aboriginal title declared – for the first time in Canada. This is the first time in Canadian history that a court has declared Aboriginal title to lands outside of a reserve.