Land is an essential element in the development of economies, cultures, and governments. The manner in which questions of ownership, use, access and authority are resolved can result in conflict or opportunity. Judicial decisions have, over the years, clarified the potential scope of Aboriginal title as well as the obligations placed upon public and First Nation governments. The opportunity for modern property law regimes to integrate the communal nature of Aboriginal title may be a clearer challenge now than ever before.
Speaking from the perspective of both a lawyer and a land surveyor, Izaak de Rijcke reviews recent Canadian cases related to Aboriginal title and reflects on how this “collective right” challenges traditional thinking about property rights and ownership within existing property law regimes.