Indigenous Sacred Sites & Lands

Pursuing Preservation Through Colonial Constitutional Frameworks

  • Chase Blair


Sacred sites and lands are vital to the spiritualities of many Indigenous peoples in Canada. However, colonial conceptions of land ownership, land use, and religion have worked in concert to stifle the preservation of Indigenous sacred sites and lands. This article examines three options, based in the Constitution Act, 1982, that Indigenous peoples in Canada may pursue to preserve their sacred sites and lands: the section 35 title option, the section 35 rights option, and the section 2(a) Charter option. This paper suggests that the legal frameworks associated with each option perpetuate colonial values, whether it is the dispossession of land, the belief that land is only a commodity, or the superiority of Christianity over Indigenous spiritualities. By constructing legal frameworks that make the preservation of sacred sites and lands so difficult, Indigenous spiritualities are only further oppressed by the Canadian state.