|In 1973, the Canadian federal government established a federal policy for the negotiation and settlement of Aboriginal land claims. This occurred largely in response to the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision in Calder v Attorney-General of British Columbia (1973) which recognised land rights based on Aboriginal title originating in traditional use and occupancy of the land. The policy divides claims into the two broad categories of comprehensive and specific claims. Specific claims settlements may be negotiated under the Specific Claims Policy. Specific claims arise from Canada’s breach or non-fulfilment of lawful obligations found in treaties, agreements or statutes (including the Indian Act (1876)). Where it is determined that an outstanding legal obligation does exist, a claim is accepted for negotiation. Negotiations may then proceed between the First Nation, the federal government and the province or territory concerned (where relevant). The settlements are designed to achieve 'full and final' closure to grievances and to facilitate economic opportunities for First Nation communities. 1991 saw the reform of the specific claims process, including the provision of increased funding and the removal of restrictions on pre-Confederation claims. An independent claims advisory body called the Indian Specific Claims Commission (ISCC) was also established. More recently, the Specific Claims Resolution Act (2003) provided for the establishment of the Canadian Centre for the Independent Resolution of First Nations Specific Claims. This is to operate as an independent dispute resolution mechanism and adjudicative tribunal.|
Over 250 specific claims have been settled since 1973, while over 100 remain in the negotiation stage.