Comprehensive Claims

Comprehensive land claims deal with the unfinished business of treaty-making in Canada. These claims generally arise in areas of Canada where Aboriginal land rights have not been dealt with by treaty or through other legal means. In these areas, forward-looking agreements (also called "modern treaties") are negotiated between the Aboriginal group, Canada and the province or territory.

These treaties are implemented through legislation and remain the most comprehensive way of addressing Aboriginal rights and title. Achieving more treaties remains a critical piece in achieving lasting certainty and true reconciliation. This includes certainty about the ownership, use and management of land and resources for all parties. Some treaties have also included provisions relating to Aboriginal self-government. The rights set out in the treaties receive constitutional protection.

Since 1973, Canada and its negotiation partners have signed 26 comprehensive land claims and three self-government agreements. Of the 26 signed agreements, 18 included provisions related to self-government.

These settlements have provided:

  • Aboriginal ownership over 600,000 km2 of land (almost the size of Manitoba)
  • Capital transfers of over $3.2 billion
  • Protection of traditional ways of life
  • Access to resource development opportunities
  • Participation in land and resources management decisions
  • Certainty with respect to Aboriginal land rights in approximately 40 per cent of Canada's land mass
  • Associated self-government rights and political recognition

Learn more about the economic benefits of modern treaties.

Evolving Legal Landscape

Since 1982, over 40 Supreme Court of Canada decisions have informed the Government of Canada's understanding of the nature of Section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982. The courts have stated that the underlying purpose of s. 35 is the reconciliation of the pre-existence of Aboriginal societies with the assertion of sovereignty of the Crown, and that negotiation represents the best approach to advancing reconciliation.

Negotiating Tables Across Canada

As of March 2014, there are about 100 comprehensive land claim and self-government negotiation tables across the country. These tables are at various stages of the negotiation process. Review these key general statistics about negotiating tables. Explore this map or consult this list of negotiation tables to learn more about these negotiations. More detailed information about treaties concluded to date and ongoing negotiations is available in this online status report.

Ongoing Work with Partners to Accelerate Progress

To respond to calls for change, Canada is working with partners to accelerate progress in comprehensive land claim and self-government negotiations in a manner that is more equitable, sustainable and that better enables economic development for Aboriginal groups.

This includes ongoing work with partners to improve processes and policies in the area of comprehensive claims and self-government negotiations, along with a renewed focus on results-based negotiations. The goal is to work together in a more streamlined way, finalize agreements and reach the finish line faster so that Aboriginal communities can have access to and invest their settlement dollars.

Canada remains committed to working with its partners to achieve results at negotiating tables for the benefit of all Canadians.

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Quick Facts on Recent Progress

  • Since 2006, Canada and its negotiation partners have signed six comprehensive land claims (modern treaties) agreements and one self-government agreement. Of the six signed comprehensive land claim agreements, four included provisions related to self-government.
  • These settlements provide:
    • Aboriginal ownership of over 7700 km2 of land
    • Protection of traditional ways of life
    • Access to resource development opportunities
    • Participation in land and resources management decision-making
    • Certainty with respect to Aboriginal land rights
    • Associated self-government rights and political recognition.
  • The six comprehensive land claim agreements include: in British Columbia, the Tsawwassen First Nation (2009) and the five Maa-nulth First Nations (2011), which are implementing their Final Agreements. The Yale First Nation Final Agreement in British Columbia was signed on April 13, 2013 and received Royal Assent in Parliament on June 19, 2013. The Tla'amin Final Agreement in British Columbia was signed on April 11, 2014 and received Royal Assent on June 19, 2014. In Quebec, the Nunavik Inuit Land Claims Agreement (2008) and the Eeyou Marine Region Land Claims Agreement (2012) are both in effect. In Manitoba, the Sioux Valley Dakota Nation's self-government agreement received Royal Assent in Parliament on March 4, 2014, and came into effect on July 1, 2014, setting the stage for the First Nation to become the 34th self-governing Aboriginal group in Canada.