Canada was founded on two colonial legal fictions, the Terra Nullius and the Doctrine of Discovery

These doctrines proclaimed that any land not occupied by Christians were considered empty and thus void of “civilized” peoples and would become the property of the Crown. Therefore in their conquest to dispossess Indigenous peoples of our lands, the colonial empire deemed and committed cultural genocide as a means to eradicate Indigenous peoples.

“Much of their land has been taken away and whatever land is left to them is subject to constant encroachment. Their culture and their social and legal institutions and systems have been constantly under attack at all level, through the media, the law and the public educational systems. It is only natural, therefore, that there should be resistance to further loss of their land and rejection of the distortion or denial of their history and culture and defensive/offensive reaction to the continual linguistic and cultural aggressions and attacks on their way of life, their social and cultural integrity and their very physical existence. They have a right to continue to exist, to defend their lands, to keep and to transmit their culture, their language, their social and legal institutions and systems and their way of life, which have been illegally and unjustifiably attacked.” 

Encyclopedia of Human Rights, p. 756 Edited by: David P. Forsyth 

The five-volume Encyclopedia of Human Rights, edited by David Forsythe, offers comprehensive coverage of all aspects of human rights theory, practice, law, and history in over 300 entries signed by leading scholars and human rights experts. The coverage includes major figures, organizations and institutions, human rights events and crises, and human rights norms.

47. We call upon federal, provincial, territorial, and municipal governments to repudiate concepts used to justify European sovereignty over Indigenous peoples and lands, such as the Doctrine of Discovery and Terra Nullius, and to reform those laws, government policies, and litigation strategies that continue to rely on such concepts. - Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls To Action

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