The Federal Court of Appeal has thrown out a case that could have major implications for First Nations.
Bruce McIvor is with First People’s Law in Vancouver.
He says the Specific Claims Tribunal was set up by the federal government in 2008 to settle First Nations claims against the Crown in regards to treaty fulfillment and reserve lands.
The tribunal is set-up to be the final decision making body for these claims, in order to bypass lengthy court cases.
But in a recent ruling, the Federal Court of Appeal may have undermined the very purpose of the tribunal.
The tribunal had ruled in favour of the Williams Lake Indian Band, but the federal government asked the Federal Court of Appeal for a judicial review.
But rather than provide clarity and return the case to the tribunal for a judgement, the Federal Court of Appeal decided the matter itself and dismissed the Williams Lake Indian Band’s case, a move the court itself acknowledges to be unusual.
McIvor says a judicial review is very different from an appeal, in which a judicial review only clarifies or settles a disagreement on a point of law, whereas an appeal will lead to a judgement.
McIvor says the tribunal was built around the purpose of hearing and being sensitive to First Nations issues.
While he’s not sure if the Williams Lake Indian Band will take the case to the Supreme Court, McIvor says he hopes they do, and believes they have a strong case.
No one at the Williams Lake Indian Band was available for a comment.