Aboriginal rights refer to practices, traditions and customs that distinguish the unique culture of each First Nation and were practiced prior to European contact. These are rights that some Aboriginal peoples of Canada hold as a result of their ancestors' longstanding use and occupancy of the land. The rights of certain peoples to hunt, trap and fish on ancestral lands are examples of Aboriginal rights. Aboriginal rights vary from group to group depending on the customs, practices and traditions that have formed part of their distinctive cultures. Aboriginal rights are protected under s.35 of the Constitution Act, 1982.
There are areas in Canada where Aboriginal people's claims to Aboriginal rights and title have not been dealt with by treaty or in any other legal way. Historically, in most of British Columbia, Yukon and Nunavut, as well as parts of Québec and Newfoundland and Labrador, treaties were not made with First Nations or Inuit people who lived there. To address this fact and other outstanding claims of Aboriginal rights and title, the comprehensive land claims process (or the making of modern treaties) was established in 1973.
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