Specific Claims Background


The following timeline (until 1991) comes from a document (The Indian Claims Commission: Background and Overview) produced by the now-defunct Indian Claims Commission.

  • Royal Proclamation of 1763 confirms Aboriginal rights and states that treaties must precede European settlement.
  • 1812-1921: Treaties signed with Canada’s First Nations.
  • 1927: Amendment added to Indian Act which discourages land claims. Fines are levied against lawyers who raise funds for a claim or represent a First Nation in a claim against Canada.
  • Beginning in the 1940s, calls were made for the creation of an independent claims body.
  • 1951: The Indian Act is revised to remove the provision that made it an offence to raise funds or hire a lawyer to advance a land claim without the government’s permission.
  • 1973: Government policy divides First Nation land claims into specific and comprehensive.
  • 1973: The Supreme Court recognizes the existence of Aboriginal title in the Calder case.
  • 1982: Section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982, recognizes and affirms existing Aboriginal and treaty rights.
  • 1984: In Guerin, the Supreme Court finds that the Crown has a fiduciary obligation to protect First Nations’ interests in transactions with third parties.
  • 1990: In Sparrow, the Supreme Court recognizes existing Aboriginal right to fish and interprets Section 35 of the Constitution Act for the first time.
  • 1990: The Oka crisis raises awareness of land claims.
  • 1991: The Indian Specific Claims Commission is created.
  • 2003: Bill C-6 Specific Claims Resolution Act
  • 2008: Bill C-30 Specific Claims Tribunal Act



The following documents provide an overview of specific claims law in Canada. They are listed according to date (in some instances, approximate) of publication.