|The entrenchment of Aboriginal and treaty rights in the Constitution Act 1982 necessitated that the Canadian federal government reevaluate its position with respect to rights, the negotiation of comprehensive land claims, and the self-government of Aboriginal people. A task force (The Task Force to Review the Comprehensive Claims Policy) was created for the purpose of assessing the existing land claims policy, and providing recommendations for change. The Task Force was also to consider the potential for the inclusion in negotiations of issues which Aboriginal people wished to address, the role of provincial and territorial governments in negotiations, and the operation of the negotiation process itself. The Task Force was chaired by Murray Coolican and received over 75 briefs throughout its travels and consultations with Aboriginal people across Canada. |
In December 1985, the Task Force presented its final report (made public in early 1986), entitled Living Treaties: Lasting Agreements, which soon became known as the 'Coolican Report’ (the Report). Its recommendations regarding land claims policy included four central principles: the recognition and affirmation of Aboriginal rights; the negotiation of Aboriginal self-government arrangements; the sharing of responsibility for land and resource management between government and Aboriginal people; and the recognition that the interests of third parties be treated fairly. The Report recommended the abandonment of cash and land deals, and a general broadening of the land claims policy so as to permit the negotiation of economic, social, political and cultural issues. It recommended that rather than extinguish Aboriginal rights, land claims settlements should affirm them. Subsequent to the release of the Report, all Aboriginal peoples in the process of negotiating comprehensive land claims formed the Comprehensive Claims Coalition in order to lobby the federal government to formulate a new policy based on the recommendations of the Report. This proved a long and difficult process, and it was not until December 1987 that a new land claims policy proposal received formal approval.