Treaties and Land Claims: Background Content

Comprehensive Claims and Modern Treaties

Fed. Govt.

Comprehensive Claims Negotiating Stages

Framework Agreement

At this first stage of negotiation, the groups involved agree on issues to be discussed, how they will be discussed, and on deadlines for reaching an Agreement-in-Principle.


The Agreement-in-Principle (AIP) is the second stage in the negotiation process. This is the stage during which the parties negotiate the issues set out in the Framework Agreement. Reaching an Agreement-in-Principle, commonly called an AIP, often takes longer than any other stage in the negotiation process as parties address and attempt to resolve the broad range of subject matters set out in the Framework Agreement. The AIP generally contains all of the major elements of the Final Agreement. The AIP is not legally enforceable.

Final Agreement

A Final Agreement is the outcome of successful negotiations. It details agreements reached between the Aboriginal group, the province or territory, and Canada on all issues at hand, including resources, financial benefits, self-government, and land ownership. The Final Agreement must be ratified by the parties, and signed by the principals. Canada then passes settlement legislation that gives effect to the Final Agreement and renders it valid. The Final Agreement is based on the AIP. It must be ratified and signed by all parties, before being made effective through federal, and in some cases, provincial legislation. It is accompanied by an implementation plan.

Final Agreement Implementation Plan

An implementation plan is a document that is negotiated and re-negotiated by the parties to a land claims and/or self-government agreement during the negotiations of a Final Agreement. It is an integral appendix to a Final Agreement because it identifies what must be done to put the agreement into effect, who will be responsible for which implementation activity, as well as when and how these activities will be undertaken.

Fed. Govt.

Comprehensive Land Claims

Comprehensive land claims deal with the unfinished business of treaty-making in Canada. These claims generally arise in areas of Canada where Aboriginal land rights have not been dealt with by treaty or through other legal means. In these areas, forward-looking agreements (also called “modern treaties”) are negotiated between the Aboriginal group, Canada and the province or territory.

These treaties are implemented through legislation and remain the most comprehensive way of addressing Aboriginal rights and title. Achieving more treaties remains a critical piece in achieving lasting certainty and true reconciliation. This includes certainty about the ownership, use and management of land and resources for all parties. Some treaties have also included provisions relating to Aboriginal self-government. The rights set out in the treaties receive constitutional protection.

Since 1973, Canada and its negotiation partners have signed 26 comprehensive land claims and four self-government agreements. Of the 26 signed agreements, 18 included provisions related to self-government.

These settlements have provided:

  • Aboriginal ownership over 600,000 km² of land (almost the size of Manitoba)
  • Capital transfers of over $3.2 billion
  • Protection of traditional ways of life
  • Access to resource development opportunities
  • Participation in land and resources management decisions
  • Certainty with respect to Aboriginal land rights in approximately 40 per cent of Canada’s land mass
  • Associated self-government rights and political recognition

Fed. Govt.

Modern Treaties

Modern Treaties and Self-Government Agreements

The modern treaty era began in 1973 after the Supreme Court of Canada decision (Calder et al. v. Attorney-General of British Columbia), which recognized Aboriginal rights for the first time. This decision led to the development of the Comprehensive Land Claims Policy and the first modern treaty, the James Bay and Northern Québec Agreement signed in 1975.

Modern treaties are nation-to-nation relationships between Indigenous peoples, the federal and provincial Crown and in some cases, a territory. These treaties enable Indigenous peoples to rebuild their communities and nations on their own terms. The first modern treaty came into effect in 1975, and the latest modern treaty to come into effect was in 2016. Modern treaties define the land and resource rights of Indigenous signatories, and are intended to improve the social, cultural, political, and economic well-being of the Indigenous peoples concerned.

Also known as comprehensive land claim agreements, modern treaties are generally signed where Indigenous title and rights have not been settled. To date, 26 modern treaties have been concluded between the Crown and Indigenous peoples, covering over 40 percent of Canada’s land mass.
More modern treaties will be signed in the coming years; more than 70 Indigenous groups are currently negotiating modern treaties with the Government of Canada.

Modern treaties address such matters as:

  • Ownership and use of land, water and natural resources, including the subsurface
  • Management of land, water, and natural resources, including fish and wildlife
  • Harvesting of fish and wildlife
  • Environmental protection and assessment
  • Economic development
  • Employment
  • Government contracting
  • Capital transfers
  • Royalties from resource development
  • Impact benefit agreements
  • Parks and conservation areas
  • Social and cultural enhancement
  • The continuing application of ordinary Indigenous and other general programming and funds
  • Self-government and public government arrangements

Modern Treaties and Self-Government Agreements

  • James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement (Quebec) (1977)
  • Northeastern Quebec Agreement (Quebec) (1978)
  • Inuvialuit Final Agreement (Northwest Territories) (1984)
  • Sechelt Indian Band Self-Government Act (British Columbia) (1986)
  • Gwich’in Comprehensive Land Claim Agreement (Northwest Territories) (1992)
  • Council for Yukon Indians Umbrella Final Agreement (Yukon) (1993)
  • Nunavut Land Claims Agreement (Nunavut) (1993)
  • Sahtu Dene and Métis Comprehensive Land Claim Agreement (Northwest Territories) (1994)
  • Mi’kmaq Education Agreement (Nova Scotia) (1997)
  • Nisga’a Final Agreement (British Columbia) (2000)
  • Tlicho Agreement (Northwest Territories) (2005)
  • Labrador Inuit Land Claims Agreement (Newfoundland and Labrador) (2005)
  • Westbank First Nations Self-Government Agreement (British Columbia) (2005)
  • Nunavik Inuit Land Claims Agreement (2008)
  • Tsawwassen First Nation Final Agreement (British Columbia) (2009)
  • Maa-nulth First Nations Final Agreement (British Columbia) (2011)
  • Eeyou Marine Region Land Claims Agreement (2012)
  • Sioux Valley Dakota Nation (Manitoba) (2014)


Fed. Govt.

Modern Treaties Timelines

Modern Treaties: Comprehensive Land Claim Settlements or Self-Government Agreements



Indigenous Group


James Bay and Northern Québec Agreement

James Bay Cree


Northeastern Québec Agreement



Inuvialuit Final Agreement

Western Arctic Inuit: Northwest Territories


Sechelt Indian Band Self Government Agreement



Gwich’in Agreement

Northwestern portion of the Northwest Territories and 1,554 km2 of land in the Yukon


Nunavut Land Claims Agreement

Inuit of the eastern Arctic

1993 – 2008

Council for Yukon Indians Umbrella Final Agreement (1993)

11 Yukon First Nation final agreements

Based on the Carcross/Tagish First Nation (2006); Champagne and Aishihik First Nations 1(995);

Dawson First Nation; Kluane First Nation (2004); Kwanlin Dun First Nation (2005;

Liard First Nation; Little Salmon/Carmacks First Nation (1997); First Nation of Nacho Nyak Dun 1995; Ross River Dena Council; Selkirk First Nation (1997); Teslin Tlingit Council (1995); Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation (1995 ;or White River First Nation.


Sahtu Dene and Métis Agreement

Mackenzie Valley, Northwest Territories

Aug. 28, 2018 – Parties initial Self-Government Agreement-in-Principle. As stipulated in the 1993 Sahtu Dene and Metis Comprehensive Land Claim Agreement, self-government agreements have been or are currently being negotiated with each of the five Indigenous communities in the Sahtu Region, including the Sahtu Dene and Metis of Norman Wells. Negotiations towards a Final Agreement are commencing.

Feb. 21, 2019 – signing the Self-government Agreement-in-Principle for the Sahtu Dene and Métis of Norman Wells represents a significant step in the journey towards fulfilling the obligation to negotiate self-government in the 1993 Land Claim Agreement. More importantly, this Agreement-in-Principle represents a key milestone in the journey towards self-government and self-determination for the Sahtu Dene and Metis of Norman Wells. The Agreement-in-Principle considers how to implement the inherent right for the Sahtu Dene and Métis of Norman Wells in a community where they comprise a smaller proportion of the overall population. This Agreement-in-Principle is flexible and forward-looking, in that it allows for changes in the governance model, as the population demographics change in the future.


Nisga’a Final Agreement

Nass Valley, northern British Columbia


Tlicho Land Claims Agreement

North Slave region, Northwest Territories


Labrador Inuit Land Claims Agreement

Labrador and Newfoundland


Westbank First Nation Self-Government Agreement



Nunavik Inuit Land Claims Agreement



Tsawwassen First Nation Final Agreement

BC Lower Mainland


Maa-nulth First Nations Final Agreement

Vancouver Island


Eeyou Marine Region Land Claims Agreement



Sioux Valley Dakota Nation Self-Government Agreement



Northern Secwepemc te Qelmucw Agreement-in-Principle

Cariboo region of BC: Four First Nations: Stswecem’c-Xgat’tem; T’exelc; Tsq’escen’ Xat’sūll


Ditidaht and Pacheedaht First Nations


Signed an Agreement in Principle (AIP) for a treaty with the Government of Canada and the Government of British Columbia. These elements include ownership and cooperative management of land and resources, self-government and jurisdiction over a range of subject matters, harvesting rights, cultural and heritage protection, economic development opportunities and capital transfer. Subject to further negotiations, treaty settlements with Ditidaht and Pacheedaht First Nations will include lands from the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve in the West Coast Trail and Nitinaht Lake area and adjacent to the Pacheedaht community. The treaties will also support arrangements to preserve and enhance the West Coast Trail hiking experience and facilitate cooperative management within the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve.


Anishinabek Nation, Ontario

Anishinabek Nation Governance Agreement. When ratified, the Government of Canada will recognize Anishinabek law-making powers and authority over how their First Nations are governed. Four parts of the Indian Act that deal with governance will no longer apply to the Anishinabek First Nations who ratify the proposed Agreement. The First Nations will make their own decisions about leadership selection, citizenship, government operations, as well as how best to protect and promote Anishinaabe language and culture.



Other Background Content By Theme

Treaty Land Entitlements

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First Nations Land Management Regime

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Specific Claims

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Historical Treaties of Canada and First Nations

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