The linkage between land – a particular territory – and a respective First Nation is the basis of defining peoples as indigenous. Coupled with this is the recognition that indigenous peoples have the right to own, use, develop, and control their own lands. The Supreme Court of Canada’s recent decision in Tsilhqot’in Nation v. British Columbia (2014) further affirms the rights of First Nations with respect to land by establishing the first concrete legal recognition of Aboriginal title on the ground in Canada.
The Land Rights & Claims policy heading encompasses several distinct yet related areas, most notably Comprehensive Claims, Specific Claims and Additions to Reserve (ATR). The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) has held strategy sessions on Land Rights & Claims as a regular part of its agendas at most recent Assemblies, and ensures political oversight through the Chiefs Committee on Claims (CCoC) and other ad hoc bodies, as well as through the Chiefs-in-Assembly.
The AFN’s work in the areas above includes information gathering and sharing between and among First Nations, advancing and reporting on policy development, fostering opportunities for First Nation participation in all aspects of planning and decision-making, pursuing strategic partnerships where appropriate, and general advocacy.