The Indigenous Bar Association in Canada (the “IBA”) is delighted to announce the favourable decision in Williams Lake Indian band v Canada (aboriginal affairs and northern development), 2018 scc 4

Ottawa, ON – The decision, released on Friday, February 2, 2018, concerned whether the Crown in right of Canada (“Canada”) could be held responsible under the Specific Claims Tribunal Act for losses arising from events that occurred pre-Confederation. It also considered whether, if Canada could be held responsible, Canada had owed, and breached, a fiduciary obligation to the band. The decision confirmed the Specific Claims Tribunal’s (“Tribunal”) original ruling that Williams Lake Indian Band had a valid specific claim for losses arising from the breach of the Crown’s fiduciary duties. Importantly, the Supreme Court confirmed the Tribunal’s finding that “…before and after Confederation, the Crown owed the band a sui generis fiduciary obligation… [emphasis added].”

The IBA acted as an intervenor in this case and was represented in court by IBA President Scott Robertson and Chris Albinati. The IBA Board and membership wishes to thank them for their hard work and congratulate them on their resulting success. Notably, Justice Wagner (now the Chief Justice) in his majority decision echoed sentiments provided in the factum submitted by the IBA – “A just resolution of these types of claims is essential to the process of reconciliation.” (at paragraph 2). The IBA supports Williams Lake Indian Band in their continued struggle to regain their traditional lands and hopes this decision is a first step on their journey to reconciliation.

The Indigenous Bar Association is a national association comprised of Indigenous lawyers (practicing and non-practicing), legal academics and scholars, articling clerks and law students, including graduate and post-graduate law students. We are mandated to promote the advancement of legal and social justice for Indigenous peoples in Canada and to reform of laws and policies affecting Indigenous peoples.

For further information contact Scott Robertson, President of the Indigenous Bar Association at srobertson@indigenousbar.ca.