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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St. Ann’s Island Shooting and Fishing Club Ltd. v. The King

Supreme Court of Canada – [1950] S.C.R. 211

Ontario Aboriginal titleFiduciary dutyLands reserved for Indians

Summary

Even though it does not mention it, in a way, the St. Ann’s Island Shooting & Fishing Club was the first Supreme Court’s decision to recognize and examine fiduciary relationship between the Crown and Aboriginal (Rotman, 2003: 370). The Crown must act with diligence and care when dealing for the Indians – in this case, an Order in Council authorizing the lease cannot by constructed as giving the Superintendent-General the power to negotiate with the Club for another lease, with new conditions, more than fifty years later. If the need arise for a new lease, a new Order-in-Council on the Governor in Council’s part is needed.

Issue

Did Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs have the power to conclude a new lease with the St. Ann’s Shooting and Fishing Club, and was the surrender of the Chippewas and Pottawatomie Indians of Walpole Island total and definitive?


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Kitkatla Band v. British Columbia (Minister of Small Business, Tourism and Culture)

Supreme Court of Canada – [2002] 2 S.C.R. 146

British Columbia Application of laws to AboriginalsFiduciary dutyJurisdiction over Indians

Summary

The Supreme Court confirmed that a provincial law is not unconstitutional simply because one or some of its provisions specifically refer to Aboriginals. We must assess the provision, and the general scheme of the Act, to determine whether they apply or not.

Issue

Are the paragraphs of the Heritage Conservation Act that specifically target Aboriginals unconstitutional, since the legislative jurisdiction over Indians is federal?


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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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Manitoba Métis Federation Inc. v. Canada (Attorney General)

Supreme Court of Canada – 2013 SCC 14

Manitoba Fiduciary dutyHonour of the CrownMétis

Summary

This decision determined whether the Crown had breached its obligations towards the Métis in its implementation of the Manitoba Act. The Court recognizes that there can be a breach of the honour of the Crown because of accumulated faults, and rejects a defense based on the passing of time.

 A constitutional and solemn obligation of the Crown with the objective to reconcile its sovereignty with aboriginal interests gives rises to the honour of the Crown. However, since the Manitoba Act does not grant discretionary power to the Crown on aboriginal interests, there is no fiduciary duty.

Issue

  1. Is Canada in breach of its fiduciary duty to the Métis?
  2. Did Canada fail to comply with the honour of the Crown in the implementation of ss. 31 and 32 of the Manitoba Act?
  3. Is the claim for a declaration barred by limitations or by the doctrine of laches?


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Gladstone v. Canada (Attorney General)

Supreme Court of Canada – [2005] 1 S.C.R. 21

British Columbia Fiduciary duty

Summary

The Court refuses to grant interests to Aboriginals on an amount held for them by the Crown. It states that fiduciary duty does not apply to every situation: “Although the Crown in many instances does owe a fiduciary duty to aboriginal people, it is the nature of the relationship, not the specific category of actor involved, that gives rise to a fiduciary duty. Not every situation involving aboriginal people and the Crown gives rise to a fiduciary relationship.” (para. 53 of the decision).

Issue

Should the Crown have paid the interest to Gladstone for the amount held during litigation in its fiduciary role?


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R. v. Côté

Supreme Court of Canada – [1996] 3 S.C.R. 139

Quebec Aboriginal rightsFiduciary dutySeigniorial law

Summary

This case was delivered on the same day as Adams. It confirms that it is not necessary to prove the existence of an aboriginal title in order to demonstrate the existence of valid aboriginal rights.

The Court tries to standardize its aboriginal rights doctrine across Canada by refusing to impose different recognition rules according to a French or British colonial past.

As in Adams, the Court asks government’s representatives to use discretionary ministerial powers in a clear and framed way in order to avoid any infringement of aboriginal rights.

Issue

Can the accused claim an aboriginal or treaty right protected by the Constitution Act, 1982 allowing them to fish on their Quebec territory, formerly part of a French colony? If so, does the provincial regulation infringe on that right?


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Ontario and Minnesota Power Company, Limited v. The King

Judicial Committee of the Privy Council – [1925] 2 D.L.R. 37

Ontario Fiduciary dutyLands reserved for IndiansThird Party

Summary

Even when a part of reserve lands is surrendered to a company for the purposes of construction work, the company does not become owner. The government of Canada has an obligation regarding the lands and the company must comply with its requirements. It can be liable for compensation to the Indians in the case of damage.

Issue

Can a company be held liable for all damages sustained to an Indian reserve after the territory is flooded due to the company dam?


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Corinthe et al. v. Seminary of St. Sulpice

Judicial Committee of the Privy Council – [1912] A.C. 872

Quebec Fiduciary dutyLands reserved for IndiansPropertySeigniorial law

Summary

The Mohawk tried to claim property of the Seigneury of the Lake of Two Mountains, although it was rejected by the Court on the basis of a law of Lower Canada.

The Court encouraged the Mohawk to claim the benefits granted to Indians in the Seigneury by the Canadian government and seek aid.

What they received was not satisfactory, which gave rise to the Oka Crisis in 1990.

Issue

Between the Mohawks and the Sulpicians, who holds the title to ownership of the Seigneury of the Lake of Two Mountains?


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Guerin v. The Queen

Supreme Court of Canada – [1984] 2 S.C.R. 335

British Columbia Aboriginal titleFiduciary dutyLands reserved for Indians

Summary

The Guerin decision is one of the most significant in the history of Aboriginal law. It recognized that the Crown has a fiduciary duty towards Aboriginals and their lands, and reaffirmed the existence of Aboriginal title in Canada subsequent to Calder.

Issue

Did the Crown breach its fiduciary duty to the Musqueam Band of Indians by agreeing to a lease with conditions less favourable than those accepted by the band members, and if so, this breach be sanctioned in a court of law?


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