Indigenous Rights and Resistance

Indigenous Rights and resistance Learn about Indigenous rights and efforts to assert them.

Indigenous Resistance

First Nations communities and people across Canada are fighting in defense of their rights, restitution of their lands and resources, for equitable opportunities, and self-determination.

Here are some sources of information on some of those struggles, and the grassroots groups who support them.


United Nations

The Canadian governments’ refusal to recognize the rights of indigenous people is in violation of basic human rights as recognized by the United Nations.

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples asserts that “Indigenous peoples have the right to own, use, develop and control the lands, territories and resources that they possess by reason of traditional ownership or other traditional occupation or use, as well as those which they have otherwise acquired.” In other words, Indigenous people have the right to self-determination.

The United Nations Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination also calls upon States to recognize and protect the rights of Indigenous peoples to own, develop, control and use their communal lands, territories and resources and, where they have been deprived of their lands and territories traditionally owned or otherwise inhabited or used without their free and informed consent, to take steps to return those lands and territories.

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner of Human Rights issued a critical 2005 report on the status of the Canadian Government’s relationship with Canada’s Indigenous people.

The United Nations Human Rights Committee also commented critically on the issue of Indigenous land rights and treaties in Canada in its concluding observations in November 2005.

Supreme Court

Map of indigenous land claims and treaties, Canada. In recent years, the Supreme Court of Canada has frequently ruled that the governments of Canada must adequately consult with and accommodate the interests of First Nations communities. The exact definitions of "accommodate" and "consult" are being defined on a case-by-case basis. For more information on the legal details of the Supreme Court of Canada’s decisions: please download a legal briefing paper by Fraser, Miller, Casgrain, LLP.

Recent Canadian Supreme Court Verdicts

These legal advancements reflect a cultural shift in public values towards Indigenous people, and the efforts of years and years of organizing and advocacy utilizing a spectrum of tactics by Indigenous communities and their allies. Still, the indigenous movement is a long way from achieving self-determination.