Our Contributions

Our Work in the Courtroom

Since its inception, Mandell Pinder has been at the forefront of efforts to use the justice system to advance the interests of Indigenous peoples. Below are some of the cases we have been involved in that have had a lasting impact on the legal landscape.

Photo credit: Doane Gregory

Southwind v. Canada, 2021 SCC 28

The Supreme Court of Canada confirmed that compensation for breaches of fiduciary duty by the Crown in relation to unlawful interference with reserve lands must reflect the highest value of the lands damaged or taken. Mandell Pinder was counsel to the appellant Lac Seul First Nation and the interveners the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs, the Penticton Indian Band, and the Williams Lake First Nation.

R. v. Desautel, 2021 SCC 17

The Supreme Court of Canada held that “aboriginal peoples of Canada” in subsection 35(1) of the Constitution Act, 1982, means the modern‑day successors of Aboriginal societies that occupied Canadian territory at the time of European contact, which may include Aboriginal groups that are now outside Canada. Mandell Pinder was counsel to the intervener Okanagan Nation Alliance.

Williams Lake Indian Band v. Canada (Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development), 2018 SCC 4

The Supreme Court of Canada affirmed Canada’s legal responsibility for breaches of fiduciary duty committed by the colonial government in failing to protect Indigenous lands. Mandell Pinder was counsel to the appellant Williams Lake First Nation.

Tsleil-Waututh Nation v. Canada (Attorney General), 2018 FCA 153

The Federal Court of Appeal set aside the approval of the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline system intended to carry diluted bitumen to Burnaby, British Columbia, in part on the basis that Canada failed to discharge its duty to consult Indigenous peoples in relation to the project. Mandell Pinder was counsel to the applicant Upper Nicola Band.

Gitxaala Nation v. Canada, 2016 FCA 187

The Federal Court of Appeal set aside the approval of the Northern Gateway pipeline project intended to carry bitumen to Kitimat, British Columbia, on the basis that Canada failed to discharge its duty to consult Indigenous peoples in relation to the project. Mandell Pinder was counsel to the applicants Nadleh Whut’en First Nation and Nak’azdli Whut’en First Nation.

Chartrand v British Columbia (Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations), 2015 BCCA 345

The BC Court of Appeal clarified the Crown’s obligations when engaged in deep consultations with an Indigenous group and affirmed that there is no reciprocal duty on Indigenous people to consult if the Crown offers inadequate consultation. Mandell Pinder was counsel to the respondent Kwakiutl First Nation.

Haida Nation v. Canada (Fisheries and Oceans), 2015 FC 290

The Federal Court issued an injunction against the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to prevent the re-opening of a commercial herring fishery in the Haida Gwaii area. Mandell Pinder was co-counsel to the applicant Haida Nation.

Tsilhqot’in Nation v. British Columbia, 2014 SCC 44

The Supreme Court of Canada issued a declaration that the Tsilhqot’in Nation have Aboriginal title to an area comprising approximately 438,000 hectares of land in the Chilcotin region of British Columbia. Mandell Pinder was counsel to the interveners at the First Nations Summit and an intervenor coalition led by the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs.

Canada v. Kitselas First Nation, 2014 FCA 150

In its first consideration of a decision of the Specific Claims Tribunal, the Federal Court of Appeal affirmed the Tribunal’s decision that the Crown breached a legal obligation to the Kitselas First Nation to protect part of their lands. Mandell Pinder was counsel to an intervener coalition led by the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs.

R. v. Sappier; R. v. Gray, 2006 SCC 54

The Supreme Court of Canada affirmed that Mi’kmaq and Wəlastəkwewiyik (Maliseet) persons accused of possession of or cutting of Crown timber did so pursuant to an Aboriginal right. Mandell Pinder was counsel to the intervener Okanagan Nation Alliance and the Shuswap Nation Tribal Council.

R. v. Morris, 2006 SCC 59

The Supreme Court of Canada held that two members of the Tsartlip First Nation accused of unlawfully hunting at light with an illuminating device did so pursuant to a treaty right. Mandell Pinder was counsel to the appellants Ivan Morris and Carl Olsen.

Haida Nation v. British Columbia (Minister of Forests), 2004 SCC 73

The Supreme Court of Canada affirmed that, prior to undertaking conduct that would adversely affect an asserted Aboriginal right, the Crown has a constitutional duty to consult and, if appropriate, accommodate the Aboriginal group asserting the right. Mandell Pinder was counsel to the respondent Haida Nation.

British Columbia (Minister of Forests) v. Okanagan Indian Band, 2003 SCC 71

The Supreme Court of Canada affirmed an advance costs order requiring the Province of British Columbia to pay on an interim basis the legal costs incurred by an Indigenous group in litigation involving an assertion of Aboriginal title. Mandell Pinder was counsel to the respondent Okanagan Indian Band.

Osoyoos Indian Band v. Oliver (Town), 2001 SCC 85

The Supreme Court of Canada affirmed the content of the Crown’s fiduciary obligations in relation to the taking of reserve lands, holding that the Crown must show a clear and plain intent to extinguish an interest in reserve land. Mandell Pinder was counsel to the appellant Osoyoos Indian Band.

Delgamuukw v. British Columbia, [1997] 3 S.C.R. 1010

The Supreme Court of Canada confirmed for the first time that the Aboriginal title has not been extinguished in British Columbia. Louise Mandell was counsel for the appellant Gitksan and Wet’suwet’en houses.

R. v. Van der Peet, [1996] 2 S.C.R. 507

The Supreme Court of Canada articulated the test for proof of an Aboriginal right. Mandell Pinder was counsel to the appellant Dorothy Marie Van der Peet.

Blueberry River Indian Band v. Canada (Department of Indian Affairs), [1995] 4 S.C.R. 344

The Supreme Court of Canada held that Canada breached its fiduciary duty to the former Fort St. John Beaver Band and articulated the legal standard to which the Crown will be held in the context of a surrender of reserve land. Mandell Pinder was counsel to the appellant Blueberry River and Doig River bands (the successors to the Fort St. John Beaver Band).

R. v. Sparrow, [1990] 1 S.C.R. 1075

The Supreme Court of Canada articulated the basic principles regarding the interpretation of subsection 35(1) of the Constitution Act, 1982, including the approach to assess when an Aboriginal right is infringed and the test for the Crown to justify an infringement. Louise Mandell was counsel to the intervener the National Indian Brotherhood / Assembly of First Nations.

Claxton v. Saanichton Marina (1989), 36 B.C.L.R. (2d) 79 (CA)

The BC Court of Appeal affirmed that a treaty between the Crown and the Saanich Tribe provided the Indigenous adherents with legal rights to the fishery, which provided a basis for their objection to a marina development. Louise Mandell was counsel to the respondent Tsawout First Nation.

R. v. Jimmy (1987), 15 B.C.L.R. (2d) 145 (B.C.C.A.)

The BC Court of Appeal held that a by-law authorizing fishing on a reserve was valid and provided a defence to a charge laid under the Fisheries Act. Leslie Pinder was counsel to the accused.

Pasco v. C.N.R. Co. (1985), 69 B.C.L.R. 76

The BC Supreme Court issued an injunction to prevent Canadian National Railway from constructing a second track along the Fraser River due to concern regarding damage to fisheries relied upon by Indigenous peoples. Leslie Pinder was counsel to the plaintiff Oregon Jack Creek Indian Band.

Guerin v. The Queen, [1984] 2 S.C.R. 335

The Supreme Court of Canada affirmed that the Crown’s obligations in relation to First Nations’ reserve lands were legally enforceable and fiduciary in nature. Mandell Pinder alumnus Jim Reynolds was counsel to the appellant Musqueam Indian Band.

R. v. Bartleman, [1984] 55 B.C.L.R. 78 (B.C.C.A.)

The BC Court of Appeal affirmed that a treaty between the Crown and the Saanich Tribe guaranteed to the Indigenous adherents the right to hunt on unoccupied land throughout their hunting territory, including on private land. Louise Mandell was counsel to the accused Tsarltip hunter.

Insights

We work creatively to transform the legal system. With early support and encouragement from key Indigenous leaders, including the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, we continue to respond to the visions and needs of Indigenous peoples.

Photo credit: Doane Gregory