Relevant Cases

Aboriginal Rights

R v. Gladstone [1996] 2 S.C.R 723
R v. Cote [1996] 3 S.C.R 139
R v. Adams [1996] 3 S.C.R 101
R v. N.T.C Smokehouse Ltd [1996]

R v. Van der Peet [1996] 2 S.C.R 507 (SCC)
R v. Sparrow [1990] 1 S.C.R 1075 (SCC)

R v. Delgamuukw [1997] 3 S.C.R 1010 (SCC)

R v. Pamajewon [1996] 2 S.C.R 821 (SCC)

Aboriginal Title 

Johnson and Graham’s Lessee v. M’Intosh [1823] 8 Wheat 543  [USSC]

St. Catherine’s Milling & Lumber [1888]JCPC

Connolly v. Woolrich [1867] 11 L.C 197 (Que. SC)

Worcester v. Georgia [1832] 31 U.S 530 (USSC)
Calder v. A.G (B.C) [1973] S.C.R 313 (SCC)

R v. Guerin [1984] 2 S.C.R 335(SCC)
Roberts v. Canada [1989] 1 S.C.R 322 (SCC)

Delgamuukw v. British Columbia [1997] 3 S.C.R 1010 (SCC)           

Mabo v. Queensland [1992] 5 C.N.L.R 1 (SCC)

Kruger and Manuel v. R [1978] 1 S.C.R 104 (SCC)

Bear Island Foundation v. Ontario [1996] 1 C.N.L.R 16

Treaty Rights

R v. Marshall [1999] 3 S.C.R 456

R v. Sioui [1990] 1 S.C.R 1025

R v. Horseman [1988] 1 S.C.R 901

R v. Syliboy [1929] 1 D.L.R 307           

R v. Badger [1996] 1 S.C.R 771
R v. Sundown [1999] 1 S.C.R 393

Mikisew Cree First Nation v. Canada [2002] 1 C.N.L.R 169

Aboriginal Rights 

Aboriginal rights are rights that some Aboriginal peoples of Canada hold as a result of their ancestors' longstanding use and occupancy of the land. The rights of certain Aboriginal peoples to hunt, trap and fish on ancestral lands are examples of Aboriginal rights. Aboriginal rights will vary from group to group depending on the customs, practices and traditions that have formed part of their distinctive cultures.

Traditional Territory

Many Aboriginal rights are rooted within traditional territories.  Traditional territory (off reserve) refers to the land which surrounds a First Nation community that was and still may be used by the First Nation community to practice a subsistence way of life - that is, land where hunting, trapping, fishing, and gathering activities were historically practiced, and that still may be used by the community for cultural and livelihood purposes.  

Aboriginal Title

Aboriginal title is a legal term that recognizes Aboriginal interest in the land. It is based on Aboriginal peoples’ longstanding use and occupancy of the land as descendants of the original inhabitants of Canada. It is asui generis [unique] right in land. It is inalienable, except to the Crown and has its legal source in prior occupation of the land. Aboriginal title is held communally, not by any one member of an Aboriginal Nation. Although Aboriginal title is a right in land, and not tied to any particular 'Aboriginal use', there is an inherent limit on the possible uses that can be made of the land. For instance, if a group claims a special bond with the land because of its ceremonial or cultural significance, it may not use the land in such a way as to destroy that relationship.

If there is to be an infringement on Aboriginal title the government must recognize its fiduciary relationship with Aboriginal people, and ensure that there is as little infringement as possible, that fair compensation is made available and that the Aboriginal group has been consulted.

The signing of treaties in Canada extinguished Aboriginal title (but not Aboriginal rights) within those lands delineated by the treaty.

Treaty Rights 


A "Treaty" is a written agreement or contract made between two or more nations or sovereigns, formally signed by commissioners properly authorized, and solemnly ratified by the several sovereigns or the supreme power of each state. In Canada, treaties are constitutionally recognized agreements between the Crown and Aboriginal nations.

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