In British Columbia, Canada's westernmost province, unresolved Aboriginal claims to land remain highly contentious. Since the early 1990s, a unique treaty negotiation process has sought to resolve questions about land ownership and establish a new relationship between Aboriginal peoples and the Crown. After almost two decades, the limitations of this treaty process are increasingly evident and answers to the land question remain elusive. This article examines this treaty‐making process through a property lens, focusing on how particular models of property are privileged by and produced through this approach to treaty. I argue that the treaty process, as currently structured, works to entrench dominant Western forms of property across Aboriginal territories in a highly separate and unequal manner, and as such, serves to reinscribe asymmetrical relations of power between Aboriginal peoples and the Crown. To a considerable extent, this asymmetrical approach to property making explains the lack of progress towards treaties. The final part of the article explores alternative approaches to treaty proposed by Aboriginal groups. I argue that these proposals, which reflect Aboriginal understandings of property, offer a new and more promising direction for treaty making. In particular, the emphasis on sharing lands and resources, as well as the wealth generated from these, provides a path to reconcile competing property interests and to build a new and more respectful relationship between the Crown and Aboriginal peoples. I suggest that the difficulties of treaty making in British Columbia reflect broader challenges associated with land restitution and reconciliation in settler colonies.
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