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Over the next two years, it will research and publish a complete collection of Canadian court cases dealing with native rights from 1763 to the present, including a comprehensive subject index to all major points of law considered in them. It will also publish a series of scholarly studies on questions related to native land rights, drawing on existing, unpublished research as well as on new research conducted under the auspices of the Centre.
Dr. Brian Slattery research director for the Centre is in charge of the project, which is being supported by matching grants from the Alberta and Saskatchewan Law Foundations totalling $61,000.
Dr. Slattery stated that the project will provide a well researched assessment of the legal basis for native land claims in all major sectors of Canada today. As a result, it should prove valuable to courts in deciding questions related to aboriginal title, to native organizations, to government departments that deal with native Canadians, and to anyone else concerned with land rights.
Dr. Slattery recently completed a four-year study at Oxford University of native rights arising from occupation of the land before the arrival of the Europeans and how these rights were affected by Britain's acquisition of their territories. He concluded that the native peoples generally retained Recognizable rights to unsurrendered lands in their possession following the establishment of British sovereignty.
Some 400 cases related to native land rights are known to have been tried since 1763 and more may be discovered. These will be published in a series of 10 or 12 hardcover volumes of up to 500 pages each. The comprehensive subject index will be contained in the final volume.
The series, of scholarly studies to be published as part of the project will draw on Dr. Slattery's research at Oxford, on previously unpublished research undertaken by various native organizations and private scholars across Canada, and on new research into questions related to land rights that have so far not received adequate treatment. Proposed topics include an examination of the legal effect of the terms governing the transfer of Hudson's Bay Company territories to Canada in 1870, and a study of the effect of the transfer of natural resources from federal to provincial jurisdiction in 1930.