Reserve Creation in Colonial
not exist in British Columbia until shortly after the region became an
official British colony. Before this time, First Nations had no
colonial restrictions as to where they lived on the land or how they
used the resources that the land and water provided.
Once the colonial
powers claimed sovereignty over
the land and its resources, Aboriginal Title and
became a very controversial issue.
first reserves were
not created until the 1850's and 1860's after the colony of Vancouver
Island was established in 1849 and the mainland of British Columbia
became a colony in 1858. During this time period the Hudson's Bay
Company was granted control of land and settlement in both colonies by
the British colonial authorities.
James Douglas, Chief Factor of the Hudson's Bay Company and governor of
the colonies, recognized that in order to promote settlement he would
have to extinguish Aboriginal Title and stabilize the relationship
between First Nations and settlers. Douglas negotiated fourteen
agreements for the cession of Title on Vancouver Island from 1850-1854.
This process was intended to extinguish Title through treaty.
treaties along with Treaty 8 and the Nisga'a treaty, finalized in the
year 2000, are the only treaties that have been signed in British
Douglas Treaties, the Colonial
office in Ottawa stopped funding efforts for the extinguishment
Title in British Columbia. However, the British Colonial office still
expected Douglas to proceed with extinguishing Indian Title, but at the
Colony's own cost. Although the Royal
Proclamation of 1763
required the negotiation of treaties to extinguish Title and claim
Aboriginal lands for settlement, Douglas created reserves throughout
the colony without either negotiating nor extinguishing Aboriginal
of the colony in 1864 and while in power, reduced existing
reserves and was unwilling to allot new reserves or add to pre-existing
reserves. Trutch refused to recognize Aboriginal Title and, like
Douglas, acted without any formal policy. Trutch's reductions to Indian
reserves were the first of many "adjustments" or "cut-offs"
been made to reserves.
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