Calder Decision of the Supreme Court of Canada, 1973

… a core concept in Governance and Institutions and Atlas100

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Concept description

The Calder Decision of the Supreme Court of Canada (1973, reference below, link to decision on right) deals with the question of whether aboriginal title could exist in common law.

David Cruickshank (reference below) summarizes the case as follows:

“The Calder case (1973) reviewed the existence of “aboriginal title” claimed over lands historically occupied by the Nisga’a Aboriginal peoples of northwestern BC. The Supreme Court of Canada by a majority recognized that aboriginal title could exist in common law, but split 3-3 on its validity, with half of the Court declaring that the right was never extinguished by statute or treaty, which is what the Nisga’a had argued. The other half of the Court found that aboriginal title did not exist with respect to the Nisga’a land as it had been extinguished prior to BC joining Confederation. Justice Pigeon tipped the balance against the Nisga’a on a procedural point – that permission to sue the BC government had not been obtained from the attorney general. Chief CALDER lost his case, but the aboriginal title question was not settled, and the decision led to federal willingness to negotiate Aboriginal land claims.”

Sources

Supreme Court of Canada, Calder et al. v. Attorney-General of British Columbia, Supreme Court Judgments, at http://scc-csc.lexum.com/scc-csc/scc-csc/en/item/5113/index.do, accessed 2 October 2016.

David Cruickshank (2013), Calder Case, Canadian Encyclopedia, at http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/calder-case/, accessed 2 October 2016.

Topic, subject and Atlas course

Indigenous Governance in Governance and Institutions and Atlas100.

Page created by: Ian Clark, last modified 2 October 2016.

Image: Supreme Court of Canada, Calder et al. v. Attorney-General of British Columbia, Supreme Court Judgments, at http://scc-csc.lexum.com/scc-csc/scc-csc/en/item/5113/index.do, accessed 2 October 2016.