Settler colonialism’s back lanes: Dania Igdoura, ‘An Examination of Settler Colonialism in Canada’s Legal Institutions: 1492 Land Back Lane’, Aletheia, 1, 2, 2021


Abstract: In this paper, I will investigate how Canadian legal institutions function to serve the interests of the settler colonial state in the dispossession of Indigenous peoples. This investigation will be facilitated through an examination of the court proceedings of 1492 Land Back Lane, a contemporary example whereby land defenders are being criminalized by Canadian courts for re-occupying their unceded land in Caledonia to protect it from a proposed housing development. Here we see an example of oppression, and therefore, it may be useful to utilize Sensoy & DiAngelo’s (2017) definition of oppression: namely, the prejudice and discrimination of one social group, in this case, settlers, against another, here Indigenous peoples, backed by legal authority and historical, social and institutional power (p. 84). Focusing on legal authority in this case, I seek to demonstrate ultimately how anti-Indigeneity is embedded within the Canadian legal system. In order to do this, I will begin by examining key historical legal documents, namely the Constitution of Canada and the Indian Act, with an eye to the settler colonial ideology of paternalism underlying them. Then, I will turn to the court proceedings of 1492 Land Back Lane, establishing their problematic and paternalistic nature, and grounding them within existing case law on Indigenous land rights, to demonstrate how Canadian courts can serve to perpetuate settler colonialism and land dispossession, often through the legal mechanism of injunction. Ultimately, I seek to demonstrate how the very concept of land back is incompatible with Canadian law.

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