The Terms of Our Surrender

Colonialism, Dispossession and the Resistance of the Innu
Elizabeth Cassell
1 October 2021
229 × 152 mm
371 pp
Paperback: 978-1-912250-45-5
PDF: 978-1-912250-48-6

Based on extensive fieldwork and oral history, The Terms of Our Surrender is a powerful critical appraisal of unceded indigenous land ownership in eastern Canada. Set against an ethnographic, historical and legal framework, the book traces the myriad ways the Canadian state has successfully evaded the 1763 Royal Proclamation that guaranteed First Nations people a right to their land and way of life.

Focusing on the Innu of Quebec and Labrador, whose land has been taken for resource extraction and development, the book strips back the fiduciary duty to its origins, challenging the inroads which have been made on the nature and extent of indigenous land tenure—arguing for preservation of land ownership and positioning First Nations people as natural land defenders amidst a devastating climate crisis. It offers a voice to the Innu people, detailing the spirituality practices, culture and values that make it impossible for them to willingly cede their land.

The text is intended to bridge the gap in knowledge between legal practitioners and those working at the intersections of human rights, social work and public policy. The book offers a potent template for how we can use the law to fight back against the indignities suffered by all indigenous peoples.


"Joining together robust historical and socio-legal research with an activist spirit, 'The Terms of Our Surrender' brings fresh understanding to ongoing colonialism in North America. The scrupulous documentation and argument in this book will help correct any misapprehensions about the benign nature of Canada’s treatment of indigenous peoples."   
 -Professor Colin Samson (author of The Colonialism of Human Rights: Ongoing Hypocrisies of Western Liberalism)

Table of contents: 
Part 1: The Innu
Chapter 1: Innu/Canadian Relations In Their Social Context
Chapter 2: The Innu left to their fate in Schefferville
Chapter 3: Matimekush Lac John Today
Chapter 4: Legacies of the Past: Barriers to Effective Negotiation
Chapter 5: Racis

Part 2: The Royal Proclamation and Questions of Trust Over Indigenous Land
Chapter 6:   Historical Background
Chapter 7: The Personal Fiduciary Duty
Chapter 7: Bending the Law to the Needs of Settlement
Chapter 8: The Honour of the Crown, the Duty to Consult and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Part Three: The Modern Treaties and Canada’s Comprehensive Claims Policy
Chapter 9: The James Bay Project: The Plot to Drown the Northern Woods
Chapter 10: The Malouf Judgment - Chief Robert Kanatewat et al v La Societe de Daveloppement de la Baie James et al et La Commission Hydro-Electrique de Quebec [1974] RP 38
Chapter 11: Negotiating the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement
Chapter 12: The Aftermath of Signing the James Bay Agreement
Chapter 13: The Comprehensive Land Claims Policy

Part Four: The Innu Experience of the Comprehensive Land Claims Process
Chapter 14: All that is Left to Us is the Terms of our Surrender: Negotiations to Recover Lost Innu Lands
Chapter 15: The New Dawn Agreement
Chapter 16: The Position of the Innu Who Live in Quebec
Chapter 17: Construction and Protest at Muskrat Falls

Part Five: Citizens Plus or Parallel Paths?
Chapter 18: Academic Solutions
Chapter 19: Indigenous Solutions
Chapter 20:   Citizens Plus or Parallel Paths?