Settler Colonial and Indigenous Geographies

Deepening counter institutions: Property, lands, relations, and the economic future of the Tŝilhqot’in

The recognition of Aboriginal title by the Supreme Court of Canada in 2014 affirmed the existence and relevance of a Tŝilhqot’in legal order governing the relationship that Tŝilhqot’in people have with their lands, with each other, and with outsiders. The challenge now for the Tŝilhqot’in is to articulate and enact these laws in ways that respond to their modern socio-economic and cultural-ecological needs and goals without betraying their fundamental principles. Complicating this is a dominant narrative which rationalizes First Nations compliance with liberal institutions of British common law, property, and market-based economic growth as requirements for socio-economic improvements and well-being within First Nations communities. This article interrogates some of the logics and fundamental assumptions that underpin the arguments of liberal property rights enthusiasts, questioning their applicability to the values and aspirations of the Tŝilhqot’in people and First Nations broadly. The Tŝilhqot’in, empowered through title, at once resist liberal private property while at the same recognize the need for institutional developments in relation to lands, housing, and ‘ownership’. This indicates a need for new legal conceptualizations of property that are more comprehensively rooted in, and reflective of, Indigenous laws and land relations.

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Volume 40 Issue 1

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