Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada v. Native Child and Family Services of Toronto

Supreme Court of Canada — [2010] 2 S.C.R. 737

Ontario Jurisdiction over Indians

Summary

This decision is about the labour relations of an agency operating with an aboriginal clientele fall under federal jurisdiction. Since the essential nature of the agency’s activities is to give children’s aid, it is provincial, not federal.

If the aboriginal character of agency’s activities is predominant, Native Child would be considered as a federal undertaking and would be subject to federal laws.

Issue

Do the labour relations of the Native Child and Family Services of Toronto (“Native Child”) fall under federal or provincial jurisdiction?


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Quebec (Attorney-General) v. Moses

Supreme Court of Canada – [2010] 1 S.C.R 557

Quebec ConsultationEnvironmental assessmentTreaties

Summary

Because of this decision, both federal and provincial environmental assessment processes must be conducted in some cases, sometimes resulting in duplication.

The Court addresses the interpretation of modern treaties such as the James Bay Northern Quebec Agreement. It concludes that since they resemble modern contracts a lot more than historical treaties, they should not be interpreted with the same liberal rules.

Issue

Does the JBNQA exempt a mining project within its territory from an independent environmental assessment inquiry by the federal government?


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McIvor v. Canada (Registrar of Indian and Northern Affairs)

Court of Appeal for British Columbia – 2009 BCCA 153

British Columbia DiscriminationIndian ActStatus

Summary

This case put an end to some discrimination between men and women in the application of the Indian Act.

Before, an Indian woman who married a non-Indian man lost her status, while an Indian man who married a non-Indian woman gave his wife the status. The Court confirms that corrections brought to this situation in 1985 by Parliament were not sufficient in putting an end to such inequality between men and women.

Issue

Do the provisions of section 6 of the Indian Act violate the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms because of discrimination based on sex and marital status, and can Grismer’s children be entitled to Indian status even if their paternal grandfather and mother are non-Indian?


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Ermineskin Indian Band and Nation v. Canada

Supreme Court of Canada – [2009] 1 S.C.R. 222

Alberta Fiduciary dutyIndian ActTreaties

Summary

The fiduciary obligation of the Crown is not breached because it paid interest on Indian moneys instead of investing them in a diversified portfolio. The fiduciary obligation of the Crown requires the use of discretion in the best interests of the bands; however this does not necessitate investment.

Issue

Does the fiduciary obligation of the Crown necessitate the investment of royalties received on behalf of the Samson and Ermineskin Indian bands? If not, does its chosen method of calculation and payment of interest constitute a breach of the fiduciary duty?


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R. v. Kapp

Supreme Court of Canada – [2008] 2 S.C.R. 483

British Columbia Aboriginal rightsCanadian Charter of Rights and FreedomsDiscrimination

Summary

The Supreme Court confirmed that “preferential” measures towards Aboriginals in terms of fisheries (exlusive periods, for example) are valid and legal in Canadian law, and they do not violate the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Issue

Does the communal fishing licence granted under the Aboriginal Communal Fishing Licences Regulations violate the non-Aboriginal fishers’ equality rights protected by the Charter?


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Canada (Attorney General) v. Lameman

Supreme Court of Canada – [2008] 1 S.C.R. 372

Alberta Fiduciary dutyIdentityTreaties

Summary

The Court did not decide the case on its merits since it judged that it was statute barred.  The Court noted that the Aboriginals could have filed their application in the 1970s, and because they had failed to do so, it was now too late.

It was not well received by Aboriginal people, since in the 1970s a lot of them thought (or were told) they had no case because the law was not as evolved as it is today.

Issue

Did the Crown breach its fiduciary duty by omitting to clearly inform the Band members of the consequences of “taking script” and pressuring the leadership to surrender their tract of lands, and did it breach its treaty obligations  by not giving the full 48 square miles to the Band and by not distributing a sufficient amount of food?


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R. v. Morris

Supreme Court of Canada – [2006] 2 S.C.R. 915

British Columbia Aboriginal rightsApplication of laws to AboriginalsTreaties

Summary

The Court confirms that public safety limits aboriginal and treaty rights, and that the means used to practice treaty rights can evolve in time.

Issue

Is the Tsarlip’s right to hunt using illumination protected by treaty? If so, can a provincial regulation affect this right?


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R. v. Sappier; R. v. Gray

Supreme Court of Canada – [2006] 2 S.C.R. 686

New Brunswick Aboriginal rightsTrade

Summary

This case was delivered a few days before Morris. It clarifies the criteria of the “distinctive culture” established in Van der Peet in order to recognize the existence of an aboriginal right. The traditional activity must not be unique or exclusive, but rather must be an integral part of the distinctive culture.

To understand what this culture represents, one must study the way of life of an aboriginal community before contact with the Europeans, “including their means of survival, their socialization methods, their legal systems, and, potentially, their trading habits.” (par. 45 of the decision).

Issue

Do the respondents have an Aboriginal right or a treaty right to harvest wood from Crown lands for their personal use?


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McDiarmid Lumber Ltd. v. God’s Lake First Nation

Supreme Court of Canada – [2006] 2 S.C.R. 846

Manitoba FundingIndian ActSeizure

Summary

The Court gives a strict meaning to the exemptions from seizure and garnishment contained in the Indian Act. The funds of a Comprehensive Funding Arrangement, by which the federal finances the Band, are not exempted.

Issue

Are the funds from a CFA between an Indian band and the federal government deemed situated on a reserve, thus exempting them from seizure under sections 89 and 90 of the Indian Act?


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Blackwater v. Plint

Supreme Court of Canada – [2005] 3 S.C.R. 3

British Columbia Criminal lawResidential school

Summary

The Court recognizes the potential responsibility of religious organizations for offenses committed in residential schools. It also recognizes that the federal government is responsible for these crimes.

Issue

Can the government of Canada and the United Church of Canada be liable to former residential school students? If so, on what legal basis, and what damages can be awarded?


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