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A different current : alternative theoretical propositions to guide aboriginal fisheries policy-making in British Columbia Hanvelt, Marc

Abstract

Liberal individualism and group-differentiated rights are not incompatible with one another, as has often been suggested in Canadian political discourse. In order to make self-defining choices, and to be the autonomous free-choosing individuals that are central to liberal theory, individuals require a range of options from which to choose and a means of differentiating between those options. An individual's culture provides him or her with both of these necessary elements of autonomous free choice. But while Canadians share a common culture by virtue of their membership in a Canadian moral community, there is no single Canadian identity. Some Canadians, such as aboriginal peoples, are Canadian through being members of minority national groups which have distinct cultures of their own. In order to ensure that liberal equality is extended to all citizens of Canada, the complexity of Canadian identities must be reflected in government policy-making. In this thesis, I develop a set of theoretical propositions about group-differentiated rights in Canada, and apply them to aboriginal fisheries policy-making in British Columbia. I propose a policy that reflects those theoretical propositions and compare it with the federal government's Aboriginal Fisheries Strategy (AFS). Fishing rights are the only aboriginal rights to have run the full gamut from being traditional aboriginal practices, to being defined as aboriginal rights by the Supreme Court of Canada, to being recognized through government policy. The aboriginal fisheries policy that I propose in this thesis would be more extensive than was the AFS. The proposed policy would maintain the AFS' structure of individual fisheries agreements negotiated between aboriginal nations and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. But the proposed policy would also include provisions for significant aboriginal management of their local fisheries, as well as for aboriginal involvement in the development of a province-wide fisheries management regime.

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