Legislation on Indigenous Heritage

April 11, 2022

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Review of Federal and Provincial Legislation Implicating Indigenous Heritage in B.C.

Executive Summary of the Report


Protection and control of Indigenous heritage in Canada is shaped by many legal influences. These include Indigenous law, Canadian common law, legislation, constitutional law and international law. Nevertheless, it continues to be regulated primarily through federal, territorial and provincial property legislation.

This report is a comprehensive overview of federal and provincial legislation impacting Indigenous heritage in British Columbia. The report covers the federal and provincial laws applicable to B.C. such as the Heritage Conservation Act and Bill C-15, as well as the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP), laws on intellectual property, museums and archives, reserve lands, parks and more.

Although Indigenous legal orders, treaties and land claims are discussed, the focus of this review is Canadian legislation and law reform, including its application to First Nations in B.C. For readers who wish to learn more, a list of resources is included in the report.

Prepared By

Dr. Catherine Bell, Professor of Law at the University of Alberta, and Sarah Lazin, Master of Laws student at the University of Ottawa.

Suggested Use & Distribution

This report is an important resource for those working in Indigenous cultural heritage revitalization to understand more about the laws and policies applicable to Indigenous heritage in B.C. This report does not provide legal advice but is meant to inform the reader about federal and provincial laws and policies, and some reform initiatives at the time of publication.

Additional Resources

Recommendations for Decolonizing B.C.’s Heritage-Related Processes and Legislation
FPCC Policy Paper: Recognizing And Including Indigenous Cultural Heritage In B.C.