3a) I've heard that I could lose my land if land title questions are settled the way Indians want.
- Ron Ignace, Chairman of the Shuswap Nation Tribal Council
Native people have consistently said that they are not interested is displacing people from their homes.
3b) If the claims of native people were recognized, would that mean that Indians own the province lock, stock, and barrel?
The exact details of what native claims to title would mean remain to be worked out between native nations and the provincial and federal governments. Hamar Foster, associate professor of Law at the University of Victoria, explains it this way.
The problem, of course, is that when native people and non-native people politicians and lawyers sit down to discuss title, two very different definitions and set of assumptions are at work. Governments tend to view title as based on "use" and occupation. Native people tend to talk more about a relationship and responsibility to the land.
3c) What is the basic content of the concept of Indian title from a legal point of view?
At a minimum, it is the legal right to possess and use land, to which the underlying title of the Crown is subject. Obviously, what the courts will do to fill in the gaps in this concept remains to be seen, but for present purposes the fundamentals can be summed up in the following five propositions.
(excerpted from the Vancouver Sun, August 15, 1990)
3d) What about corporate interests in the land?
Third party interests arise when companies like forest or mining companies are granted leases or rights to extract resources from land, the title of which is under dispute. Those companies then develop plans and commit resources based upon the use of land and its resources. If the situation with respect to that land or those resources change, they expect to be compensated for the impact the change of rules has upon their business.
In some area like the lands of the hereditary chiefs of the Gitksan-Wet'suwet'en people, natives are trying to work with and negotiate with local business people to find solutions acceptable to all parties. In all areas, third party interests add another level of complexity to an already complex situation.