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Aboriginal Title and Mineral Development in Canada and Australia

Dr. Anthony Knox, Proceedings of 46th Annual Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Institute (2000)

The period 1970 to 1999 saw the legislative and judicial acceptance of legal rights relating to the indigenous peoples of Canada unthinkable by all but a tiny minority of Canadians as late as 1960. It is not yet clear that the steady elucidation of legal rights enjoyed by Canada's indigenous peoples to date will not enter a period of reaction as the value of what is at stake becomes clearer to all parties.


Even now, the law relating to the rights of indigenous peoples in the resources of vast tracts of Canada is not fully in focus. However, the broad outlines of the new relationship between indigenous peoples, the federal, provincial, and territorial governments of Canada and industry are clear enough, new enough, and potentially costly enough to merit a short explanation to interested non-Canadians who may otherwise be thoroughly confused by such developments. Canadians who have not paid close attention to these developments may also be a little surprised by what has happened.

In order to stay short in respect of a big topic I have narrowed my scope, left out most detail, and concentrated on broad themes.

I emphasize the position of my home province in these developments. British Columbia is the western-most of Canada's 10 provinces. It is a province with a different geography and, for an important part of its history, a separate hi