Laws of the land: indigenous and state jurisdictions on the Central Coast




Colgrove, Sarah

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With discussion of Indigenous laws on the rise in Canada, this thesis explores the question of law’s power: jurisdiction. In this project, I ask whether Indigenous jurisdiction is active in conflicts between Indigenous and state actors over the environment, in the context of the Heiltsuk Nation on the central coast of British Columbia. This project looks to critical legal theory for an understanding of jurisdiction. It identifies three aspects of jurisdiction that are discussed in critical legal theory and related fields: that it is technical, it is authoritative, and it is spatial. Adopting these qualities as provisional indicators of jurisdiction, it applies thefzm to three case studies of Heiltsuk (or “Haíɫzaqv”) conflicts with the state, which engage colonial law in different ways. The three case studies concern (1) herring harvest and management, which was litigated in R v Gladstone; (2) land use and forestry, which is the subject of the Great Bear Rainforest agreements; and (3) trophy hunting for bears, which is the subject of a grassroots campaign based on Indigenous law. Adopting a qualitative approach adapted from institutional ethnography, this project applies a critical jurisdictional lens to each case study, using documentary review and interviews to explore the technical, authoritative, and spatial aspects of each conflict. Ultimately, I find that expressions of Heiltsuk jurisdiction – as understood from a colonial, critical perspective – are already at play in each conflict, although this is not immediately visible from the point of view of colonial law. In the conclusion, I explore the different manifestations and strategies of Heiltsuk jurisdictional expressions, and the ways that colonial jurisdiction interacts with them.



Law, Legal, Jurisdiction, Legal theory, Critical Theory, Critical legal theory, Critical legal geography, Legal geography, territory, Constitutionalism, legal authority, authority, aboriginal, aboriginal law, Indigenous, Indigenous laws, Indigenous legal traditions, Indigenous jurisdiction, Heiltsuk, Central Coast, Great Bear Rainforest, Environmental law, Natural resources, Herring, Bear hunt, BC Legal History, BC History, fisheries, forestry, hunting