The following timeline highlights key events in the specific claims field. For a more broad timeline of historical events regarding Indigenous Peoples in Canada, see the Canadian Encyclopedia.
The timeline below borrows from a document produced by the now-defunct Indian Claims Commission, a document produced by the Institute on Governance, as well as other sources.
- 1763: 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.
- 1940’s: 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.
- 1982: The federal government consolidated its internal process for dealing with specific claims in a document called Outstanding Business. This policy provided that a band could file a claim with Canada, which would consider the claim on its merits and without regard to time-related technical defences.
- 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. See this document for a timeline of events leading to the creation of the Indian Claims Commission.
- 1998: A report was published on the Joint First Nations-Canada Task Force on Claims Policy Reform. The Joint Task Force provided a detailed blueprint for fulfilling the long-standing need for an independent claims body.
- 2003: Bill C-6, known as the Specific Claims Resolution Act, received royal assent to establish the independent resolution of First Nations Specific Claims.
- 2007: Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada introduced a policy statement entitled, “Justice at Last: Specific Claims Action Plan”. As noted by the Institute on Governance, “the major elements of the policy were impartiality and fairness (through the establishment of the Specific Claims Tribunal), greater transparency (through new funding arrangements), faster processing (through legislated time-frames, streamlined claims processes, “triaging” claims based on their monetary value), and improving access to mediation (through new services to help parties reach negotiated settlements).”
- 2008: Bill C-30 Specific Claims Tribunal Act received royal assent and replaced the Specific Claims Resolution Act. The Specific Claims Tribunal Act established “an independent tribunal comprised of superior court judges with the authority to make binding decisions on the validity of claims and compensation awards, to a prescribed maximum of $150 million per claim” [reference].
- 2009: The federal government published a Specific Claims Policy and Process Guide outlining the developments made to the Specific Claims process in light of two earlier federal government publications which called for changes to the Specific Claims process: 1) Outstanding Business: A Native Claims Policy, and 2) Justice at Last: Specific Claims Action Plan.
- 2012: The Assembly of First Nations submits a five year review of the Specific Claims Action Plan: “Justice at Last” calling for new approaches to fulfill the commitments made in Justice at Last.
- 2013: The Specific Claims Tribunal issues its first decision on the merits in Re: Kitselas First Nation, 2013 SCTC 1.
- 2015: The Assembly of First Nations publishes an independent expert report with recommendations to improve the Specific Claims process, in accordance with the requirements for legislative review under the Specific Claims Tribunal Act.
- 2016: The Government of Canada issued a new policy directive regarding additions to reserve / reserve creation.
In addition to the resources below, take a look at whose.land website to view Indigenous nations land across North America.
- Major Central and Eastern Trade Routes, First Half of the 17th Century
- Proclamation Line of 1763
- Distribution of Indian and White Settlements c. 1830
- Lake Huron Original Band Territories
- Lake Huron Indian Reserves, 1836 to the Present
- Status of Claims in Ontario
The following documents provide an overview of specific claims law in Canada. They are listed according to date (in some instances, approximate) of publication.
- A Survey of the Contemporary Indians of Canada: Economic, Political, Educational Needs and Policies – Part I 
- A Survey of the Contemporary Indians of Canada: Economic, Political, Educational Needs and Policies – Part II 
- A History of Native Claims Processes in Canada: 1867-1979 
- Le Règlement des Revendications des Autochones au Canada 1867 – 1979 (part 1) 
- Le Règlement des Revendications des Autochones au Canada 1867 – 1979 (part 2) 
- Indian Act ( R.S., 1985, c. I-5 )
- Loi sur les Indiens ( L.R., 1985, ch. I-5 )
- Background Paper – Aboriginal Land Claims Issues 
- Events Leading to the Creation of the Indian Claims Commission, 1948 to 1992 [c. 1992]
- Report of the Joint First Nations -Canada Task Force on Specific Claims Policy Reform 
- Aboriginal and Treaty Rights PRB 99-16E (Parliamentary Research Branch) [1999, revised 2000]
- Les Droits Autochtones PRB 99-16F (Direction de la recherche parlementaire) [1999, révisé 2000]
- Legislative Summary – Bill C-6: The Specific Claims Resolution Act LS-431E (Library of Parliament) 
- Résumé législatif – Projet de loi C-6: loi sur le règlement des revendications particulières LS431F (Bibliothèque du Parlement) 
- Historique de la CRI et des revendications particulières au Canada [c. 2004]
- History of the ICC and of Specific Claims in Canada [c. 2004]
- Évolution récente (CRI) [c.2004]
- Recent Developments (ICC) [c. 2004]
- Indian Claims Commission: The Facts on Claims
- What is the Indian Claims Commission?
- What are Indian Land Claims?
- What is Oral History?
- What is a Surrender Claim?
- What is a Treaty Land Entitlement Claim?
- What are Treaties?
- Commission des revendications des Indiens: Les faits sur les revendications
- Negotiation or Confrontation – It’s Canada’s Choice: Final Report of the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples: Special Study on the Federal Specific Claims Process 
- Négociations ou affrontements : Le Canada a un choix à faire. Rapport final du Comité sénatorial permanent des peuples autochtones : Étude spéciale sur le processus fédéral de règlement des revendications particulières 
- Les revendications particulières au Canada PRB 06-18F (Bibliothèque du Parlement) 
- Specific Claims in Canada PRB 06-18E (Library of Parliament) 
- Backgrounder – Specific Claims in Canada (PMO) 
- Document d’information – Les revendications particulières au Canada (PMO) 
- The Indian Claims Commission: Background and Overview [c. 2007]
- Le Premier ministre Harper annonce des réformes majeures visant à combler le retard dans le traitement des revendications particulières [12 juin 2007]
- Prime Minister Harper announces major reforms to address the backlog of Aboriginal treaty claims [June, 2007]
- Revendications particulières : La Justice, Enfin 
- Revendications particulières : La Justice, Enfin—Plan d’Action relatifs aux revendications particulières 2007 
- Specific Claims: Justice At Last 
- Specific Claims: Justice at Last—Specific Claims Action Plan 2007 
- Political Agreement on Specific Claims November 27, 2007 
- Historique du projet de loi C-6 
- INAC – Specific Claims: A Statistical Snapshot [c. 2009]
- INAC – Specific Claims Action Plan – Frequently Asked Questions [c. 2009]
- Specific Claims Policy and Process Guide