UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

Beyond the new Dawes Act : a critique of the First Nations Property Ownership Act Fabris, Michael P C


This study offers a critique of the First Nations Property Ownership Act (FNPOA), a contemporary proposal to implement private property regimes on First Nations reserves in Canada. First, I examine the arguments used by proponents of the FNPOA to motivate support for this legislation. I demonstrate how, despite its similarity with past attempts to privatize First Nations reserve lands, the FNPOA represents a re-articulation of these older proposals as a type of recognition, where the implementation of fee simple property on reserves is cast as “restoring” pre-colonial property rights regimes. Second, I discuss how this legislation informs discussions within Geography and Indigenous Studies concerning Marx’s theory of primitive accumulation. I argue the FNPOA would provide a number of mechanisms to facilitate the dispossession of Indigenous peoples from reserve lands. Finally, I look at how conflicts over First Nations land and property rights provide an important site from which to analyze how both the formation of colonized subjects and the continued existence of Indigenous subjects are inseparable from relationships with land. Specifically, I argue the FNPOA points to the act of settler colonial subject formation as part of the continued Canadian project of genocide, whereby attempts to reconfigure Indigenous relationships with land must be understood as attempts to eliminate Indigenous people as a subject position altogether. I conclude by discussing the need for Indigenous intellectuals and activists to engage in our own critical rethinking of the role reserves play, or could play, as sites for advancing an Indigenous politics of resurgence.

Item Citations and Data


Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International