Labrador: Land Claims Run Aground
Atlantic Issues, Vol. 3, No. 1
Publisher: Oxfam-Canada, St. John's, Canada
Year Published: 1978
Pages: 1pp Price: Free
Resource Type: Article
Cx Number: CX879
The Indians of Labrador have been pressing land claims as have Native people in other parts of Canada.
Abstract: The Indians of Labrador have been pressing land claims as have Native people in other parts of Canada. In this article, the author examines "the role of federal and provincial governments in the affairs of the Labrador Indians as well as the political implications of their land claims".
In contrast to other parts of Canada, the federal government did not assume direct financial responsibility for the Indians of Labrador when Newfoundland joined Confederation. Instead, Ottawa has been giving lump sum payments to the Newfoundland provincial government for "Native people". However, "Native" is interpreted by the Newfoundland government to mean anyone who was born in Labrador. Thus, the author states, the province can use the money for "whatever it wants" and has used it for both low income White settlers as well as Indians. The author feels it is, therefore, unable to respond to the special needs of Indians, particularly as they relate to land claims.
The land claims fall under federal jurisdiction since the Labrador Indians have a long, outstanding title over the land. However, these claims are being dealt with politically rather than as a legal question which keeps the decision power in the hands of federal politicians. In this context, he feels, the agreement to negotiate is "worthless" unless there is hope the negotiations can lead to the "changes native people see as necessary". Since this is not happening, and since the two groups are funded together, the author sees a growing coalition of Indians and White settlers around the land claims issue in Labrador. To him, this suggests a movement for Labrador separation.