In Canada, Unraveling Centuries of Indigenous Land Claims
Whenever Prime Minister Justin Trudeau or his Cabinet ministers speak in certain parts of Ontario or Quebec, they begin by acknowledging they are on “unceded Algonquin territory.”
That recognition is just one of the ways Trudeau’s government has been trying to signal a top priority: righting the wrongs Canada has done to indigenous people, especially over land that aboriginals say was taken from them unjustly.
But finding common ground on this issue has proved to be one of Trudeau’s most difficult policy initiatives, and critics say efforts to resolve the land disputes have bogged down. But both sides agree on the importance of sorting out the claims.
“The process of negotiating land claims should be an absolute pillar of reconciliation,” said Ken Coates, a historian at the University of Saskatchewan who studies treaties and is a consultant to indigenous groups. “This is our chance to get it right and if we don’t — boy, when will we get the chance again?”
Of the many issues dividing Canada’s federal and provincial governments from its indigenous people, land claims are among the most symbolically important and economically consequential, often involving vast amounts of territory.
Some claims involve hundreds of millions of dollars, and tribes are often interested in controlling the land at issue, by, for example, having a say over logging, oil exploration and mining.
One claim by various Algonquin groups involves the 8.9 million acres of the Ottawa watershed — which includes Canada’s Parliament buildings and Supreme Court. The government thought it had settled that claim in principle a year ago, but it has ended up in litigation anyway.
The claims are legally thorny, often requiring historians, archaeologists, geographers and geologists to give evidence sometimes stretching back before recorded history to support, or challenge, them.
In some regions, land may have been occupied by different indigenous groups at different times, even changing hands after battles that were unrecorded. These groups may all assert rights, and claims can overlap.
Then there is the problem of treaties. Some indigenous groups, like the Algonquins, never signed treaties giving up their land. The government says it is talking with about 140 indigenous groups in that situation.
Others did sign treaties, and a government tribunal that deals with treaty disputes has 72 cases and is so overwhelmed that it cannot estimate how long it will take to resolve them.
The result is that settlement negotiations occur at a frustratingly slow pace.
文／Ian Austen 譯／王麗娟
加拿大原住民聲稱（claim）他們的土地遭到不法奪走，因此透過法律途徑聲索（claim），這些土地聲索（land claim）有許多尚在對簿公堂中。claim意為聲稱時，與say的意義較接近， 如 He claimed that it was all a conspiracy against him.（他聲稱這一切都是為了對付他的一項陰謀。）claim意為聲索時，則與request（要求）意義接近，如The old man claimed the land. （這名老人（根據他的權利）要求得到這塊土地。）
當損失出現時，claim可當名詞或動詞用，意為「索賠」，如 a claim on delayed shipment.（因賣方未能按時出貨而索賠。）He claimed a casualty loss for the car.（他為汽車的意外損失提出索賠。）