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Social Science Human Geography

Unstable Properties

Aboriginal Title and the Claim of British Columbia

by (author) Patricia Burke Wood & David Rossiter

UBC Press
Initial publish date
Oct 2022
Human Geography, Historical Geography, British Columbia (BC), Indigenous Studies
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Oct 2022
    List Price
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Oct 2022
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Jun 2023
    List Price

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The so-called land question dominates political discourse in British Columbia. Unstable Properties reverses the usual approach – investigating Aboriginal claims to Crown land – to reframe the issue as a history of Crown attempts to solidify claims to Indigenous territory.


The political and intellectual leadership of First Nations has exposed the fragility of BC’s political and civil property regimes, insisting that the province grapple with diverse interpretations of sovereignty, governance, territory, and property. From the historical-geographic processes through which the BC polity became entrenched in its present territory to key events of the twenty-first century, the authors of this clear-eyed study highlight the unstable ideological foundation of land and title arrangements.


In 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission emphasized the need to educate Canadians about settler colonialism. Unstable Properties puts critical human geography at the service of this goal by demonstrating that understanding different conceptualizations of land and territorialization is a key element of reconciliation.

About the authors


  • Short-listed, Lieutenant Governor’s Historical Writing Awards

Contributor Notes

Patricia Burke Wood is a professor of geography at York University. David A. Rossiter is a professor of geography at Western Washington University. They have co-authored several articles on the politics of Aboriginal title in the Canadian Geographer, Society and Natural Resources, and the Supreme Court Law Review.

Editorial Reviews

This is critical reading for legal scholars and anyone interested in Indigenous rights.

S. Perreault, CHOICE Connect

A welcome addition to a literature that has been dominated by lawyers, historians, journalists, and political scientists.

BC Studies

The principles explored here are relevant to planners everywhere.

Plan Canada