Indigenous specific land claims in Canada

Indigenous Specific Land Claims in Canada, also called specific claims, are long-standing land claims made by First Nations against the Government of Canada pertaining to Canada's legal obligations to indigenous communities.[1]

They relate to the administration of land and other First Nation assets by the federal government, as well as to the fulfillment (or lack thereof) of historic treaty obligations and of any other agreements between First Nations and the Crown by the government.[1] For example, this can involve mismanagement of indigenous land or assets by the Crown under the Indian Act.[2] To settle specific claims, the Government of Canada does not take away land from third parties;[1] rather, the government typically resolves specific claims by negotiating a monetary compensation for the breach with the band government, and in exchange, they require the extinguishment of the First Nations' rights to the land in question.[3]

Specific claims are based on lawful obligations of the Crown toward the First Nations, and are separate and distinct from comprehensive land claims or modern treaties. More specifically, First Nations cannot use aboriginal titles or punitive damages as the basis of their claims.[1]

In 2008, an independent judicial body, the Specific Claims Tribunal, was created to give binding decisions to resolve the claims that were not accepted for negotiations, or claims where both parties could not agree on a fair compensation.[2]

The Canadian government started recognizing indigenous specific claims in 1973, whereafter they began negotiating for their settlement. Since then, 1,844 claims have been submitted by First Nation communities. Of these, 935 have been resolved.[4] As of March 2018, 460 claims have been negotiated for settlement by the federal government, while outstanding claims include the 250 that have been accepted for negotiation; the 71 that have come before the Specific Claims Tribunal; and the roughly-160 specific claims that are currently under review or assessment.[2]