In Guerin, the Court held that the government has a fiduciary duty towards Indigenous peoples - an obligation to act in their best interests. This landmark decision is explored in this book, written by an Aboriginal rights lawyer who served as one of the legal counsel for the Musqueam and argued on their behalf all the way to the highest court in the land. Jim Reynolds provides an in-depth analysis, first considering the context covering the relationship between the colonial authorities and Indigenous peoples, the facts that led to the case, and the role of governments as fiduciaries. He then explains the working of the case through the courts and the decisions. He concludes by investigating the major impact that Guerin had on Canadian law, politics, and society.The Guerin case changed the relationship between governments and Indigenous peoples from one of wardship to one based on legal rights. It was a seismic decision with implications that resonate today, not only in Canada but also in other Commonwealth countries.
This special edition of the Canadian Native Law Reporter (“ CNLR Special Edition”) features rewritten decisions of the Supreme Court of Canada, now reimagined and issued from the “Indigenous Nations Court”. The creation of the fictitious Indigenous Nations Court stems from years of frustration felt by Indigenous peoples with the Supreme Court of Canada decisions written by judges who, due to their backgrounds and training in Canadian law, do not have sufficient understanding of the history and contemporary experiences of Indigenous peoples and the importance of having their jurisdiction and legal orders respected. To respond to such concerns, the Indigenous Nations Court is comprised of individuals felt to possess such knowledge.
 CNLR Special Edition brings together an impressive and diverse range of Aboriginal rights scholars, some very senior and others in early or mid-career. The authors are not judges, nor are these actual court decisions. Rather, they are intended to stimulate thought and provoke discussion. In reasoning for acknowledgment and application of Indigenous sovereignty, jurisdiction, and law, these cases serve as a means to “disrupt” current thinking around section 35 Aboriginal rights and reimagine how leading Supreme Court of Canada cases involving Indigenous peoples could have been decided.
David McNab - a long time advisor on land and treaty rights for both government and First Nations groups - looks at the Bear Island Indigenous rights case, initiated by the Teme-Augama Anishinabe, to explore why governments fail to deal effectively with Aboriginal land claims. The book, divided into two sections, includes a survey of the historical background of the Bear Island claim followed by a more personal series of reflections about what happened as the claim encountered decades of policy hurdles, court cases, public protests, and above all resistance by the Temagami First Nation.
Drawing on scores of nineteenth-century legal cases, Harring reveals that colonial and early Canadian judges were largely ignorant of British policy concerning Indians and their lands. He also provides an account of the remarkable tenacity of First Nations in continuing their own legal traditions despite obstruction by the settler society that came to dominate them.