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Lawyers Weekly - Beardy’s & Okemasis Band awarded 4.5 Million by Specific Claims Tribunal Canada

“The tribunal found that the Crown (the respondent) had breached its fiduciary duty when it unilaterally withheld $5 per individual per year in annuities between 1885 and 1888 from the members of the Beardy’s & Okemasis Band # 96 and # 97 (the claimant) whom the government had deemed disloyal to Canada in the North-West Rebellion,” wrote Justice Harry Slade in his recent decision [SCT-5001-11].

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This article originally appeared in the January 27, 2017 issue of The Lawyers Weekly

First Nation award called "precedent setting" - Lawyers Weekly

Beardy’s & Okemasis Band # 96 and #97 v Her Majesty

This specific claim relates to the Crown’s non-payment of Treaty 6 annuities to members of the Beardy’s and Okemasis Bands (now known as the “Beardy’s and Okemasis First Nation” or the “BOFN”) between 1885 and 1888 following the North-West Rebellion (the “Annuities Claim”).

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Beardy’s and Okemasis Treaties Annuities Claim

This specific claim arises out of the Crown’s non-payment of Treaty 6 payments to members of the Beardy’s & Okemasis First Nation between 1885 and 1888, in the wake of the North-West Rebellion. The Claimant First Nation seeks compensation based on subsection 14(1)(a) of the Specific Claims Tribunal Act (“SCTA”) for “failure to fulfil a legal obligation of the Crown to provide lands or other assets under a treaty.”

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Missanabie Cree First Nation Order for Advance Costs - December 5, 2011

The Missanabie Cree First Nation (“MCFN”) is a landless band that is entitled to reserve land pursuant to the terms of Treaty No. 9 entered into in 1905 and 1906. A reserve has never been set apart for the Missanabie Cree despite repeated requests over the last 100 years. Maurice Law has been representing the MCFN for years in pursuit of a fair and just settlement of its claim against Her Majesty The Queen in right of Canada and the Province of Ontario. Protracted efforts to settle the claim through negotiations, however, have proved unsuccessful because the First Nation has not received an acceptable offer with respect to the amount of land owed under Treaty 9 or sufficient compensation for losses suffered by the First Nation for over a century.

As a result of the impasse in negotiations, the MCFN had no choice but to pursue its claim in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice. Recently, Maurice Law brought an application for an “Okanagan” style Order for Advance Costs on behalf of the MCFN. In a Decision of the Honourable Madam Justice Stewart on December 5, 2011, the MCFN was granted an Order for Advance Costs which requires the federal and provincial Crowns to pay for the First Nation's reasonable legal costs and disbursements in relation to the trial of issues relating to the interpretation of Treaty 9 and determination of the amount of land owed to the MCFN. The Courts only grant Advance Costs Orders in rare and exceptional cases, so Maurice Law, and the MCFN, are very happy that the Court found that the principles of justice supported the MCFN’s application in this case. Canada has appealed the Decision; Ontario has not.