Alberta (Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development) v. Cunningham

Supreme Court of Canada – [2011] 2 S.C.R. 670

Alberta Canadian Charter of Rights and FreedomsGovernance (self-determination, self-government)IdentityMétis

Summary

The Court determined that Métis could be refused rights guaranteed by the Metis Settlement Act upon registering as status Indians.

 This treatment could be considered a violation to the right to equality guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, as it creates a distinction between Métis with Indian status and those without, but it comes from an ameliorative program with the goal of enriching the culture, identity and autonomy of the Métis.

Issue

Do the Métis Settlements Act violate the Charter? If yes, is this violation a reasonable limit imposed by a rule of law that is justified in a free and democratic society?


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R. v. Decorte

Supreme Court of Canada – [2005] 1 S.C.R. 9

Ontario Criminal lawGovernance (self-determination, self-government)

Summary

The Supreme Court of Canada recognizes the role and validity of First Nations’ polices.

Issue

Was Decorte illegally detained when he was stopped by the First Nations constables?


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Mitchell v. M.N.R.

Supreme Court of Canada – [2001] 1 S.C.R. 911

Quebec Aboriginal rightsGovernance (self-determination, self-government)Trade

Summary

This was a test case of the Akwesasne Mohawks’ right to carry goods across the border between Canada and the United States without having to pay customs duties because of an aboriginal right to trade on this axis. The Court unanimously rejected this possibility, guided in part by considerations of sovereignty and foreign relations.

Issue

Do the Akwesasne Mohawks hold an aboriginal right which exempts them from paying customs duties on US merchandise brought into Canada? If so, what is the nature of this right?


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Lovelace v. Ontario

Supreme Court of Canada – [2000] 1 S.C.R. 950

Ontario Canadian Charter of Rights and FreedomsGovernance (self-determination, self-government)

Summary

This case addresses discrimination towards Aboriginals who are not registered as registered Indians. Because, in part, of the particular context and the differences between registered Indians and others, the Court found that there was no discrimination.

Issue

Is the exclusion of non-Indian communities from the Rama Casino’s profit sharing a violation of the right to equality (section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms) and was the decision made by the Ontario government and the Chiefs of Ontario out of jurisdiction under the Constitution Act, 1867?


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Corbiere v. Canada (Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs)

Supreme Court of Canada – [1999] 2 S.C.R. 203

Ontario Canadian Charter of Rights and FreedomsGovernance (self-determination, self-government)Indian Act

Summary

This case underlines the complexity of the Indian Act’s governance regime, and the great diversity between every band’s situations.

It was a victory for Indians living outside the reserve, who were suffering from discrimination in the band’s affairs.

Issue

Is Aboriginality-residence an analogous ground of discrimination according to the Charter, and, if so, can it constitute a reasonable limit in a free and democratic society and thus not be contrary to the Charter?


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Cherokee Nation v. Georgia

Supreme Court of the United States – 30 U.S. 1 (1831)

USA Application of laws to AboriginalsDoctrine of discoveryGovernance (self-determination, self-government)Jurisdiction over Indians

Summary

The Cherokee Nation is subject to the laws of the State of Georgia.

There is no doubt that the Cherokee Nation constitutes a distinct political society. However, the Cherokee Nation cannot be considered “foreign” for the purposes of the US Constitution. As such, it cannot go before the Supreme Court to prevent the State of Georgia from implementing its laws.

Issue

  1. Does the Supreme Court of the U.S. have jurisdiction to hear this case?
  2. If yes, can the state of Georgia be legally restrained from applying its laws on Cherokee territory?


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Davey et al. v. Isaac et al.

Supreme Court of Canada – [1977] 2 S.C.R. 897

Ontario Governance (self-determination, self-government)Indian Act

Summary

The Davey case is one of the first to address the issue of Indian self-government. This judgement maintains the reasoning that Indians are pupils of the State, and the federal Crown has the power to determine their mode of governance.

This tendency was partially reversed with the entrenchment of Aboriginal rights in the Constitution, the Charlottetown negotiations and the establishment of federal policies recognizing the Aboriginal right to self-government.

Issue

Did the Governor General’s Order-in-Council issued under the Indian Act put a valid end to the system of government led by the chiefs?

Are the Six Nations Indians a band within the meaning of the Indian Act?


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Paul v. Paul

Supreme Court of Canada [1986] 1 S.C.R. 306

British Columbia Application of laws to AboriginalsDivorceGovernance (self-determination, self-government)Indian Act

Summary

This case was delivered on the same day as Derrickson. In Derrickson, the Court decided that a provincial law about family patrimony could not apply on reserve.

Here, the Court refuses to make a distinction between occupation and possession of these lands in terms of patrimony, and again refused to apply the provincial law.

Issue

Is provincial family law concerning interim occupation of the family residence during divorce proceedings valid, applicable, operative and in force when applied to a residence situated on a reserve?


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Derrickson v. Derrickson

Supreme Court of Canada – [1986] 1 S.C.R. 285

British Columbia Application of laws to AboriginalsDivorceGovernance (self-determination, self-government)Indian Act

Summary

This case was delivered on the same day as Paul v. Paul. It reached its denouement in June of 2013.

The Court refused to apply a provincial law about the division of assets applicable to matrimonial property on reserve, covered by the federal Indian Act which didn’t contain dispositions about equitable division of assets.

After the creation of numerous committees and reports, it was not before June 2013 that a bill was passed to fill this legal void. The new bill is however criticized by many as a paternalistic act imposed on Indians by the government.

Issue

Are the dispositions of the Family Relations Act of British Columbia concerning the division of assets applicable to property situated on an Indian reserve? If not, can they still be applied by reference under section 88 of the Indian Act?


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Canadian Pacific Ltd. v. Matsqui Indian Band

Supreme Court of Canada – [1995] 1 S.C.R. 3

British Columbia Governance (self-determination, self-government)Tribunal jurisdiction

Summary

In this decision, the Supreme Court recognizes that Aboriginal peoples’ tribunals must be respected, since they are part of an empowerment process. However, rules about the independence of the Courts must apply.

Issue

Could CP and Unitel bypass the internal appeal process by bringing before the Federal Court a motion for a judicial review of the tax assessments they had received?


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