Category: Aboriginal law

UN Working Group calls on Canada to do more to address human rights abroad

A United Nations working group on business and human rights is calling on federal and provincial governments as well as industry associations and companies to bolster their efforts to prevent and address “adverse human rights impacts” of business activities in Canada and abroad.

The UN panel lauded the federal government for undertaking some initiatives to deal with business and human rights, particularly in the extractive sector, but underscored that it could do much more.

Quebec Ombudsman slams detention conditions in the North

Nearly three years after the president of the Quebec legal society warned the provincial government that prison conditions faced by Inuit inmates in northern Quebec were appalling and deplorable, the Quebec Ombudsman upbraided the government for turning a blind eye to the daily violation of basic human rights, unacceptable detention conditions, and systemic shortcomings in the administration of justice in Nunavik.

Federal government given 18 months to amend Indian Act

The federal government has been given 18 months to correct discriminatory provisions in the Indian Act that infringe the Charter of Rights and Freedoms after a Quebec judge held that generations of indigenous women have suffered discrimination based on gender.

Despite several amendments to the Indian Act, the latest in 2010 in response to a ruling by the Court of Appeal for British Columbia, Quebec Superior Justice Chantal Masse found that it still discriminated against women and their descendants on the issue of registration or “Indian status.” The federal government has until January 2017 to amend the discriminatory provisions before they are declared invalid as an unjustifiable breach of the right to equality guaranteed by section 15 of the Charter.

First Nations can now pursue claims prior to proving Aboriginal rights and title

First Nations can now bring tort claims founded on Aboriginal rights and title before those rights are formally recognized by a court declaration or government agreement after the Supreme Court of Canada refused to end lawsuits by Aboriginal communities against natural resource companies.

The SCC’s decision to dismiss the applications for leave to appeal paves the way for a $900 million class action filed by two Quebec Innu First Nations against Iron Ore Co. of Canada (IOC) and a separate suit by two north-central British Columbia First Nations against Rio Tinto Alcan Inc. over its diversion of water from the Nechako River since the 1950s.

“The interaction between common law torts and aboriginal law has not really been explored in Canada,” said Greg McDade, lawyer of the Saik’uz and Stellat’en First Nations of British Columbia.

Appeal court endorses primacy of treaty rights

In yet another forceful reminder that the Crown must hold consultations that are meaningful, conducted in good faith and held with an open mind, the Quebec Court of Appeal strongly endorsed the primacy of treaty rights of aboriginal peoples under the James Bay and Northern Québec Agreement in a decision widely expected to have ramifications across the country.

Inuit using land claims agreements to address the environmental challenges

The Inuit are turning towards land claims agreements to address the environmental challenges.

Native leader condemned to pay $106,000 to his former lawyer

Guillaume Carle, a controversial native leader, was condemned to pay $106,295 to his former lawyer.