44 Alta. L. Rev. 779 (2006-2007)
Prior Occupation and Schismatic Principles: Toward a Normative Theorization of Aboriginal Title

handle is hein.journals/alblr44 and id is 787 raw text is: TOWARD A NORMATIVE THEORIZATION OF ABORIGINAL TITLE  779
PRIOR OCCUPATION AND SCHISMATIC PRINCIPLES:
TOWARD A NORMATIVE THEORIZATION OF ABORIGINAL TITLE
DWIGHT G. NEWMAN*

There are two divergent principles underlying the
constitutional recognition ofAboriginal title in s. 35(l)
ofthe Constitution Act, 1982: the historically-oriented
principle of prior occupation,  and the forward-
looking principle of reconciliation. A closer look at
the principle of prior occupation reveals several
possible rationales behind its requirement in the test
forA boriginal title: to promote economic efficiency; to
ground a natural right of ownership; and to finction
as a proxy for the protection of individual or group
identity. However, each of these rationales fails to
adequately respond to both previousjurispntdence in
the area and the need to achieve a just and legally
sound system for determining fiture claims. If prior
occupation is instead understood as a proxy for
community connections to land,  then the primary
interests at stake are more clearlv revealed It is then
possible to develop a principled and more consistent
way of dealing with Aboriginal title claims in a way
that respects the interests of all involved.

I1 y a deux principes divergents sous-jacents b la
reconnaissance constitutionnelle de la revendication
autochtone dans s. 35(1) dans la Loi constitutionnelle
de 1982: le principe traditionnel du f premier sur
place ), et le principe prospectifde a r6conciliation ).
En examinant le premier principe de plus pros, on
constate que plusieurs justifications sont possibles
pour mettre la revendication d'Autochtone 6
1 'preuve: promouvoir I'efficacit6  conomique.
neutraliser le droit naturel 6 la propri&6t et agir en
tant que procuration pour la protection de I 'identit
individuelle ou collective. Cependant, auctne de ces
justifications ne ripond bien aux deux cas pr&dents
de jurisprudence dans ce domaine ni d'ailleurs au
besoin d'arriver bt un systmejuste etjuridiquement
solide de r~gler les revendications futures. Si cette
notion de r premier stir place )i ddsigne phttt des
e liens communautaires lila terre s, alors dans ce cas-
lh, les intlr&ts prioritaires en jeu sont phs clairs. 1I
serait alors possible de d~velopper unefaqon motive
et plus consistante de traiter les revendications
autochtones de manibre h respecter les intr&ts de tous
les partis int&ess~s.

TABLE OF CONTENTS
I.  INTRODUCTION  .............................................  780
II. HISTORICALLY-ORIENTED AND FORWARD-LOOKING
PRIN CIPLES  ...............................................  782
A.  CASE LAW  BACKDROP  ...................................  782
B.  THE Two  PRINCIPLES  ...................................  786
1II. THE NORMATIVE FORCE OF PRIOR OCCUPATION .................... 791
A. LIMITS ON THE FORCE OF PRIOR OCCUPATION .................. 791
B. PRIOR OCCUPATION AS AN EFFICIENCY-PROMOTING
PRIN CIPLE  ............................................  792
C. PRIOR OCCUPATION AND NATURAL RIGHTS
OF  O W NERSHIP  .........................................  794
D. PRIOR OCCUPATION AS PROXY FOR
IDENTITY  PROTECTION  ..................................  795
B.A. (Regina), LL.B. (Saskatchewan), B.C.L., M.Phil., D.Phil. (Oxford). Assistant Professor and
Associate Dean, University of Saskatchewan College of Law. I thank Borden LadnerGervais LLP for
research funding under the BLG Summer Student Research Fellowship program. I thank Jill Chapin for
research assistance on certain points in the article. I thank the following for helpful comments on a draft
version of the article: Jill Chapin, Patricia Farnese, Heather Heavin, Tamara Larre, and Barbara von
Tigerstrom. I also thank the anonymous reviewers for their comments and suggestions.

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