Home» Narratives» Background: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

Confederation Onward: Dominion/Provincial Disputes

Encampment of Indian Commission
When British Columbia joined Canada in 1871, the terms of union detailed the ways the two levels of government would divide jurisdiction and authority. Under Article 13 of the terms, the Dominion government held jurisdictional responsibility for Indians and the trusteeship and management of lands reserved for Indians. The provincial government retained a 'reversionary interest' in Indian lands, meaning that any lands removed from Indian reserves were to become Provincial crown land. It was at this time that the dispute between the Provincial and Dominion governments over Indian land policy began. The governments argued over control of reserve lands and the Provincial government's refusal to commit to a formal Indian policy or to recognize and deal with existing Aboriginal Title.

Both Dominion and Provincial governments held substantially different opinions regarding reserve size. The land surveyed in the province amounted to less than one acre per Indian (settlers were receiving 320 acres per family) although Aboriginal Title had neither been recognized nor extinguished. In the other provinces, the Dominion government implicitly acknowledged Title by signing treaties for land surrender, giving between 160 and 640 acres per Indian family. The province refused a Dominion government proposal to increase Indian reserves to 80 acres per family. The two governments temporarily agreed to 20 acres per family.

Philip Paul on the difference between cut-off land claims and claims based on Aboriginal Title [1972]
readaudio icon

Ongoing disputes resulted in the establishment of the Indian Reserve Commission in 1876 (first called the 'Joint Indian Reserve Commission') to determine Indian reserves in British Columbia. The reserve commission was authorized to create reserves to be used for the benefit of First Nations. Dominion crown lands were to be used to add land to reserves while any land removed became Provincial land. The decisions of the Joint Reserves Commission were made without consent from First Nations, disregarding Aboriginal Title and Rights.

« Prev Page | Next Page »




Home | Narratives | Maps/Photos | Testimonies | Teachers
Resources | About Us | Researchers

Vancouver Office:
500 - 342 Water Street,
Vancouver, BC, V6B-1B6, CANADA
Ph: 604.684.0231, Fx: 604.684.5726
Kamloops Office:
345 Yellowhead Highway,
Kamloops, BC, V2H-1H1, CANADA
Ph: 250.828.9746, Fx: 250.828.0319