Book cover image for: Common Hunger: Land Rights in Canada and South Africa

A Common Hunger: Land Rights in Canada and South Africa

Joan G. Fairweather

$39.95 CAD / $45.95 USD (S)

284 pages, 29 illustrations

6 x 9 Inches

978-1-55238-192-2 (Paperback)

978-1-55238-313-1 (Institutional PDF)

Africa: Missing Voices

October 2015

Buy Now

About the Book

A balanced examination of land claim processes that brings historical context to ongoing discussions of the effects of land dispossession and efforts to ensure that justice is done.

Geographically, demographically, and politically, South Africa and Canada are two countries that are very far apart. What they have in common are indigenous populations, which, because of their historical and ongoing experience of colonization and dispossession, share a hunger for land and human dignity.

Based on extensive research carried out in both countries, A Common Hunger is a comparative work on the history of indigenous land rights in Canada and post-apartheid South Africa. Joan Fairweather has constructed a balanced examination of the impact of land dispossession on the lives of indigenous peoples in both countries and their response to centuries of European domination.

By reclaiming rights to the land and an equitable share in the wealth-producing resources they contain, the first peoples of Canada and South Africa are taking important steps to confront the legacies of poverty that characterize many of their communities. A Common Hunger provides historical context to the current land claim process in these two former British colonies and examines the efforts of governments and the courts to ensure that justice is done.

About the Author

Joan G. Fairweather is a South African historian, archivist and writer living in Ottawa. After many years as a sound and film archivist at Library and Archives Canada, she worked at the Open Society Archives in Budapest and more recently in South Africa at the Mayibuye Centre for History and Culture in South Africa, now part of the Robben Island Museum in Cape Town.

Praise for A Common Hunger: 

This interesting and well-documented book attempts the difficult task of comparing the histories of European occupation and subsequent dispossession, oppression, and struggles for liberation of indigenous/Aboriginal peoples in Canada and South Africa

—Allison Goebel, H-SAfrica

The strength of Fairweather’s book is its well-written narrative account of the injustices and hardship suffered by indigenous peoples in Canada and Black South Africa and her sympathetic but shrewd assessment of their prospects of recovery from this experience.

—Peter Russell, University of Toronto Quarterly 

Table of Contents




List of Illustrations

List of Maps & Acknowledgements


Canada and South Africa
Aboriginal Rights and International Law

The Clearing of Lands and Languages

Part One–Disposession

The Land and the People

The First Peoples of the Cape of Good Hope

The First Peoples of North America

Slavery in New France and the Cape Colony

British North America

The Cape under British Rule

Frontier Societies


Land Rights and Treaties


Canadian Treaties

Treaties in Colonial South Africa

Discussion: Strategies of Land Alienation


Sovereignty and Segrication


Sovereignty and Constitutional Rights in Canada

Assimilation in Twentieth–Century Canada

Sovereignty in South Africa
Pragmatic Segregation in South Africa

Ideological Segregation: Apartheid South Africa

The Struggle for Sovereignty in South Africa

Challenging the Concept of Sovereignty in Canada


Part Two–Reclaiming the Land



Aboriginal Rights Court Cases in Canada

The Gitxsan and Wet’suwet’en of British Columbia

Delgamuukw v. British Columbia: The Supreme Court Decision (1997)

Aboriginal Litigation in South Africa

The Richtersveld Case: Background

The Richtersveld Community vs. Alexkor Ltd and the Government of the RSA (2000)


Negotiating Restitution


Reclaiming the Land in South Africa

The Restitution Process in South Africa

Challenges to Restitution in South Africa

Case Study: The Mogopa Community, North West Province

Rebuilding Communities

The Conservation Factor

The Case of Kosi Bay, Maputland (KwaZulu–Natal)

Negotiating Land Restitution in Canada

The B.C. Treaty Comission



Restoring Sovereignty

Negotiating Self–Government in Canada

The Sechelt Agreement

The Inuit People of the Northwest Territories

The Nunavut Land Claim

Reversing "Self Government" in the Former Bantustans


Part Three–Dealing with Legacies

Restoring Dignity

The Hunger for Dignity
Legacies for Dispossession in Canada

Legacies of Dispossession in South Africa

The Problem of "Invsibility"

Land Matters: Restoring Dignity



The Purpose of Public Inquiries

Canada’s Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (1991–96)

Critiquing the RCAP Process

South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (1996–98)

Critiquing the TRC


Uncovering the Truth


Why Land Rights Matter

The Task of Nation–building in South Africa

The Power of Stories (Canada)