Comprehensive Land Claims Agreement (Canada)

Summary

Comprehensive land claims are based on the assertion of continuing title to land and resources. Aboriginal title to land derives from a groupís traditional use and occupancy of the land. Comprehensive claims are negotiated under the Canadian federal governmentís Comprehensive Claims Policy, originally articulated in 1973 and subsequently amended in 1981 and 1986.

Extended Definition

The purpose of comprehensive claims settlements is to clearly define the rights of Aboriginal groups with respect to land and resources in such a way as to facilitate economic growth and self-government. The structure of settlements may recognise the interests of Aboriginal groups in resource management, development, and environmental protection. The rights ensured by the agreement are constitutionally protected under s 35 of the Constitution Act 1982.Comprehensive claims settlements typically identify a broad range of rights and benefits to be exercised by claimant groups.

These frequently include:

∑ full ownership of specified lands identified by the settlement agreement;
∑ guaranteed wildlife harvesting rights;
∑ guaranteed participation in environmental protection, land use and planning, water and wildlife management;
∑ financial transfer and compensation;
∑ provisions for resource revenue sharing;
∑ participation in parks and heritage resource management; and
∑ specific measures to stimulate economic development.

Comprehensive claims are negotiated by three parties: the Aboriginal claimant group, the federal government and the relevant provincial or territorial government. Self-government agreements may now be negotiated in conjunction with comprehensive claims, pursuant to the federal governmentís Inherent Right Policy.

Upon the approval of the terms of a final agreement by all parties, the agreement is implemented through federal legislation. The rights ensured by the agreement are constitutionally protected, and cannot be altered without the consent of the relevant Aboriginal group. For the purposes of negotiations, claimant groups may obtain interest free loans from the government in order to engage staff to assist in the preparation of claims. These are repayable after the conclusion of a final agreement.