A legal geographic approach to exclusion in rural property relations: the case of trespass law in Saskatchewan

Authors: Naomi Beingessner*, University of Manitoba
Topics: Rural Geography, Land Use
Keywords: trespass, property, colonialism, legal geography
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/11/2021
Start / End Time: 9:35 AM / 10:50 AM
Room: Virtual 11
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Prompted by rural citizens' concerns, the three Canadian provinces of Saskatchewan, Alberta, and Ontario have recently changed their trespassing laws amid complaints about animal rights activists’ incursions in livestock barns, trespass on rural farmland by recreational users such as snowmobilers and hunters, biosecurity on farms, and rural property thefts. Saskatchewan was the first to pass legislation, The Trespass to Property Amendment Act, in May, 2019 - just over a year after Saskatchewan farmer Gerald Stanley was acquitted of murdering a young First Nations man who drove onto his farm site, a case in which narratives about private property rights and trespass played a significant role in media and public discourse. Surveying data from contemporary news articles, farm organization policy resolutions and advocacy, submissions to Saskatchewan government consultations, and the legislation itself, I use insights from property theory and legal geography to ask/answer: What issues was legislation responding to and how was it framed? How did arguments and legislation reinforce or challenge what it means to hold title to property in agricultural land? How can this legislation be viewed within the structure of settler colonialism rooted in violence that reproduces and maintains private property and the discipline it imposes?

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