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The politics of legitimacy: A case study in specific claims

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Specific Claims is a cornerstone of the Government of Canada’ efforts to improve its relationship with Indigenous peoples. Specific Claims was introduced when the Canadian state had reduced legitimacy regarding Indigenous peoples as a result of the failed White Paper policy in 1969 and the Supreme court’s Calder decision in 1973. It promised to fulfill historical obligations towards Indigenous peoples; it has yet to meets its goals almost five decades later. Indigenous leaders are frustrated and have declared that the policy is designed to appease them while the Government of Canada continues to benefit from their lands and resources. This paper draws on qualitative coding methods to examine and explain legitimacy issues within Specific Claims. Specifically, data from parliamentary committee testimonies and three interviews indicate that Indigenous concerns with Specific Claims center around transparency, accessibility, and power. These concerns indicate problems of legitimacy in Specific Claims.
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