Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Moore at the Literary Review

My essay "The Calamity of Caledonia," is now up at the Literary Review of Canada Online, and in the mail to subscribers, and on magazine racks, too. In it, I consider the endless unresolved confrontation at Caledonia in southern Ontario in light of several decades of developments in British Columbia, starting from the lawsuit known as Calder, which was determined by the Supreme Court of Canada in 1973.
Calder’s impact was at first not very visible in British Columbia. British Columbia was then in a situation similar to Ontario today. It was hardly possible to take seriously the idea that land might actually belong to aboriginal people long marginalized on what small reserves the governments had deigned to provide them. For years, British Columbia essentially ignored Calder, and indeed it is unlikely any British Columbia government could have made a wide-ranging acknowledgement of aboriginal title and survived in office. ...
But the court decisions continued to arrive, binding the province ever more tightly and gradually acclimatizing both the government and the citizenry to the idea that aboriginal title could not be avoided. In 1984, a B.C. judicial decision affirmed that where treaties existed, they had to be considered “in the sense in which they would naturally be understood by Indians,” not simply for the convenience of government departments. In 1986, 13 years after Calder, the highest court in British Columbia had to explain to the provincial government that Calder really was the law and it was “a fallacy” for the province to believe it could go on ignoring it. In that same year came a further wake-up call: another British Columbia judgement found that in the absence of treaties, the province could not assume it was free to authorize mining, logging and other economic activities.

Gradually, all the decisions since Calder began to be reflected in land and treaty policy in British Columbia. ...
Also in the April LRC, Pamela Palmater on Tom Flanagan's newest book on aboriginal title issues.
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