Essential QuestionHow have landmark Supreme Court of Canada decisions impacted the lives of Indigenous peoples?
Learning Standards Content
Students are expected to know the following
- Canadian legislation concerning First Peoples
Students are expected to be able to do the following
- Assess and compare the significance and impact of legal systems or codes
I can name three landmark Supreme Court of Canada decisions regarding Indigenous land rights.
I can explain what makes the cases significant.
I can imagine the impact of these cases on future generations.
First People's Principles of LearningLearning recognizes the role of Indigenous knowledge.
- Read aloud each of the statements in Myth or Fact? After each statement have students predict whether it is a myth or fact. Then provide them with the factual explanations to refute the myths.
- Ask: Which fact(s) surprised you the most? Why?
- Distribute the handout “Indigenous Law KWL Chart”. Have students fill in as much as they can at this point and then continue to fill it in throughout the lesson.
- In small groups, students can discuss these Knowledge Check Questions and Answers and discuss what they may not already know.
Part 1: Terminology and Timelines
- Point out that there is a difference between the terms Indigenous Law and Aboriginal Law. Gunn and O’Neil’s article provides a clear distinction.
- Have students read Gunn & O’Neil’s article Indigenous Law & Canadian Courts and write in their own words the difference between Indigenous law and Aboriginal Law:
- Provide students with access to this Terminology Guide: Research on Aboriginal Heritage
as it provides clear definition of terms.
- Explain that students will be examining timelines to determine significant events in the history of the Indigenous peoples of Canada.
- In groups, have students analyze the following timelines to compare and contrast the types of events shown. (e.g. legislation, case law, others):
- Point out that the timelines contain significant court cases that have had an impact on the lives of Indigenous peoples.
Part 2: Landmark Cases
- Define a landmark case as a court decision that establishes an important new legal principle or concept, or which changes the previous interpretation of current law.
- Explain that students will be exploring three landmark cases dealing with Aboriginal Law and First Nations Rights.
- Note that two of the three landmark cases to be explored in this lesson are mentioned in the post from Simon Fraser University: Supreme Court of Canada cases involving Indigenous peoples | SFU Library. Delgamuukw, the landmark case from 1997 and Case #2 in this lesson, mentions a 1888 case which is the Case #1 in this lesson. The students will see how previous court cases can influence future cases. They will have another opportunity to notice this in a later exercise when they are shown the Canadian Legal Information Institute (aka CanLII) database.
- Distribute the handouts for each of the three landmark cases:
- Have students work with a partner or in small groups using the websites provided to read about each landmark case and to answer the questions on the handouts.
- Distribute the handout “Aboriginal Law & Canadian Courts”. Have students work in partners or small groups to read the article and complete the questions in the chart.
- Provide students with the handout “Looking Ahead”. By answering the questions about each of the articles, students can look ahead to how the future of Indigenous Law could be shaping up.
- Have students complete their “Indigenous Law KWL Chart”.
- Explain that the Canadian Legal Information Institute, (aka CanLII) provides additional information pertaining to indexed cases. The five tabs have the following headings. This brief description follows each heading.
- Document = The Supreme Court of Canada judgment itself.
- History = Lists previous court case decisions before ending up at the Supreme Court of Canada.
- Cited Documents = Lists the cases used to support the current case.
- Treatment = Provides a list of how the current case has been ‘treated’ in consequent cases. This list could grow in future years.
- CanLII Connects = Provides background materials regarding the case. These are written by academics or law firms and are a good source of useful commentary on the case you are researching.
- Have students visit the CanLll website to explore the various tabs to see how each of the three landmark cases they studied earlier have been ‘treated’ in later cases.
St. Catharines Milling and Lumber Co. v. R., 1887 CanLII 3 (SCC), 13 SCR 577
Document | History (0) | Cited documents (7) | Treatment (94) | CanLII Connects (0)
Delgamuukw v. British Columbia, 1997 CanLII 302 (SCC),  3 SCR 1010
Document | History (9) | Cited documents (42) | Treatment (1,016) | CanLII Connects (4)
Haida Nation v. British Columbia (Minister of Forests), 2004 SCC 73 (CanLII),  3 SCR 511
Document | History (5) | Cited documents (32) | Treatment (907) | CanLII Connects (8)
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Materials and Resources
January 01, 2022