Aboriginal Law

Ending discrimination against First Nations children in Canada

February 26th, 2015 by Priya Sarin

In February 2007, a human rights complaint was filed by the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society (the “Caring Society”) and the Assembly of First Nations (“AFN”) against the Government of Canada, alleging that the government discriminated against First Nations children by providing inequitable child welfare services to children living on-reserve as compared to children living off-reserve (First Nations Child).

In particular, the First Nations Child complaint alleges that the federal government’s program underfunds children living on-reserve, such that children do not receive needed care and support that would permit them to continue to live at home and, as a result, First Nations children are disproportionately removed from their families in comparison to non‑First Nations children. The impact of the child welfare system on First Nations communities has been compared to the legacy created by the residential school system.

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Indigenous rights and the duty to consult

January 31st, 2013 by Paula Boutis and Jessica Weizenbluth

On January 8, 2013, Frog Lake First Nation and Mikisew Cree First Nation, through their respective Chiefs, launched judicial review cases in the Federal Court. They are challenging the passage of the now infamous federal government omnibus budget bills, Bill C‑38 (Jobs, Growth and Long‑term Prosperity Act, S.C. 2012, c. 19); and Bill C‑45 (Jobs and Growth Act, 2012, S.C. c.31).

Other Canadians who may oppose these bills can only express their displeasure with them at the ballot box. With Canada’s first‑past‑the‑post electoral system, and a significant fracturing of the centre and centre‑left, it seems like an uphill battle for the rest of the country to challenge these laws, widely considered to be anti‑democratic. For all the efforts of multiple environmental organizations and the actions of the opposition in the House of Commons (perhaps most poignantly, member of Parliament Elizabeth May), there’s not a whole lot the rest of us can do.

Enter, First Nations.

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Tax court confirms “connecting factors test” for on-Reserve income tax exemption

July 30th, 2012 by Iler Campbell LLP

On July 7th 2012, the Tax Court of Canada (the Court) handed down its decision in Dickie v The Queen regarding a reassessment of a status Indian operating a proprietorship from Fort Nelson Indian Reserve (the Reserve).  Mr. Dickie operated a business clearing and slashing timber on contract for oil and gas companies to conduct seismic surveys of the land. While he accepted some contract work that took place on the Reserve, an overwhelming majority of his business came from work conducted off Reserve.

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Uncertain environmental impacts remain difficult to challenge

December 14th, 2011 by Laura Bowman

Liard First Nation v. Yukon Territory (Minister of Energy, Mines & Resources), 2011 YKSC 55 (pdf)

The Liard First Nation is in the southeast Yukon. The First Nation participated in the territorial environmental assessment (EA) of a proposed quartz mine by Selwyn Chihong in the Howard’s pass area near Watson Lake.  After consultations with Liard FN the Yukon designated office approved the environmental assessment report. There were numerous outstanding environmental questions at the end of the environmental assessment process. The main dispute in the case was the deferral of controversial water and pollution issues to licensing. The Liard FN alleged that the approval of the environmental assessment was unreasonable and breached the duty to consult and accommodate.

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