3 min read
21 Jan
Indigenous Rights

Who is considered an Indigenous person in Canada? There are three "groups": First Nations (referred to as Indians under Canada's Indian Act), the Inuit and the Metis.

In Canada, Indigenous peoples day is celebrated annually as a federal holiday on June 21 called "National Aboriginal Day".

Indigenous people in Canada's history is thought to go back 12,000 years.

The book Canadian Law and Business Studiesco-authored by Norman Fera and Richard Gasparini, contains a full chapter on "Indigenous Rights".

United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (“UNDRIP”)The B.C. government is working on incorporating that declaration in legislation as part of its reconciliation endeavours. UNDRIP: UNDRIP_E_web.pdf. Ontario's Bill 76 (of 2019) proposed a law requiring all measures necessary be taken to ensure that the laws of the province be consistent with the United Nations Declaration.  

Indigenous Self-Government in Child and Family Services

  • The courts have stated that the inherent right of self-government for Indigenous groups is recognized and affirmed by section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982.
  • Self-government may include jurisdiction in relation to child and family services.
  • Federal legislation called An Act Respecting First Nations Inuit and Métis Children Youth and Families came into force in 2020.
  • Under this statute, an Indigenous group, community or people may exercise its legislative authority in relation to child and family services,
  • The Indigenous governing body may also request that the government of a province enter into a coordination agreement with the Indigenous governing body with respect to, among other things: (a) providing emergency services to ensure the safety, security and well-being of  Indigenous children; (b) support measures to enable Indigenous children to exercise their rights effectively; and (c) fiscal arrangements, relating to the provision of child and family services by the Indigenous governing body. 
  • The above discussed in this case: Asikiw Mostos O’Pikinawasiwin Society v BL, 2022 ABPC 76 (CanLII).
  • More generally, what is Indigenous self-government? In basic terms, it is the right to govern themselves in certain territories pertaining to matters of all kinds that are internal and important to the communities and vital to their unique cultures and languages and which respect their strong connection to nature and land


Property Protections for Those on a Reserve

  • The recent Ontario Court of Appeal case (Bogue v Miracle) reminds us that the Indian Act protects real and personal property of an Indigenous person or band on a reserve from seizure and sale. 
  • The historical basis for this was to ensure non-Indigenous peoples did not dispossess the Indigenous of their land base and chattels on it.

Nothing on this website is legal advice

Spousal Rights on a ReserveThe federal Family Homes on Reserves and Matrimonial Interests or Rights Act applies on reserve lands and may be used to address division of the value of matrimonial Interests or rights, exclusive possession of a home due to family violence and emergency protection orders. The provisions in the statute apply unless Fist Nations have made their own laws on such subjects as part of their rights to self-government.


What is the “day scholars settlement”? Between the 1860s and 1980s, there were Indian Day Schools with their own curriculum that First Nations children attended and who were allowed to go home after classes. The goal was to assimilate these children into the dominant culture.

What is the Gottfriedson case? It is a class action lawsuit that was settled and includes payment to the bands of some 325 First Nations for loss of language and culture. As part of this court claim, settlement was also reached to compensate children who attended Indian Day Schools (as opposed to residential schools).

What is the Indian Residential Schools Settlement AgreementThose Indigenous children who attended residential schools were part of a settlement back in 2006 paid by the federal government. Apart from the unfortunate common experience of a curriculum and teaching designed to erase their language and culture, some children experienced physical and sexual abuse at the residential schools and the survivors, and their descendants received additional compensation.

Kindly note our alternate site: https://www.fera-gasparini.ca/. Check it for additional introductory notes or context on Indigenous Rights.

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