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Recognition of Indigenous Land Rights in Norway and Canada

In: International Journal on Minority and Group Rights
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  • 1 UiT The Arctic University of Norway, Tromsø, Norway and University of Lapland, Rovaniemi, Finland, oyvind.ravna@uit.no
  • | 2 The University of Calgary, Canada; UiT The Arctic University of Norway, Tromsø, Norway, ndbankes@ucalgary.ca
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Many states offer constitutional protection to the traditional lands of indigenous peoples. International treaties protecting ethnic minorities and indigenous peoples also require protection of the rights of indigenous communities with respect to traditional territories. States have followed different routes in identifying the ownership and resource rights of indigenous communities. In Norway, the Courts have traditionally applied the rules on prescription and immemorial usage, developed through centuries in the farming societies of Scandinavia. The legislature has chosen to follow the same approach in the Finnmark area of Norway under the terms of the Finnmark Act (2005). By contrast, in Canada, a settled colony with an English common law tradition, the Courts have developed a sui generis approach to the recognition of Aboriginal title. This article examines the rules for identifying and legally recognising the traditional lands of indigenous people in Norway and Canada with a view to reflecting on similarities and differences.

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