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Canada’s Strategy of Dispossession: Aboriginal Land and Rights Cessions in Comprehensive Land Claims

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  25 April 2016

Colin Samson
Department of Sociology University of Essex Colchester, England Email:
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This paper offers a sociological interpretation of the Canadian Comprehensive Land Claims (CLC) process, arguing that CLC is a strategy used by the state to dispossess Aboriginal peoples. CLC does this through leveraging the cession of Aboriginal rights and the relinquishing of indigenous lands. Drawing upon the ongoing Innu Nation Tshash Petapen (‘New Dawn’) agreement, I examine four related aspects of the process and the agreement which operate to dispossess the Innu: (1) the undemocratic social and political contexts in which agreement is elicited, (2) the depletion of Aboriginal rights of the indigenous party, (3) the depletion of indigenous lands, and (4) the creation of wealth and debt. Finally, I will interpret these processes as building on social changes inflicted on the Innu. These are characterized by imposed law and the state of exception.


Cet article présente une interprétation sociologique du processus canadien de revendications territoriales globales (Comprehensive Land Claims, CLC). L’auteur avance que le CLC est une stratégie employée par l’État pour dépouiller les peuples autochtones, en exploitant les cessions des droits et des territoires autochtones ancestraux. En se fondant sur le processus d’accord « New Dawn » avec la Nation innu Tshash Petapen, l’auteur examine quatre aspects interreliés du processus de négociation et de l’accord qui se conjuguent pour dépouiller les Innus: (1) les contextes social et politique antidémocratiques dans lesquels cet accord est arraché aux Innus, (2) l’extinction des droits ancestraux de la partie autochtone, (3) l’épuisement des territoires ancestraux autochtones et (4) la création de richesse et de dette. Enfin, l’auteur offre une interprétation sociologique de ces processus, selon laquelle ceux-ci se fondent sur des changements imposés aux Innus, sur un système de droit étranger également imposé et sur l’état d’exception.

Copyright © Canadian Law and Society Association / Association Canadienne Droit et Société 2016 

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