RAVEN - Respecting Aboriginal Values and Environmental Needs

Blueberry River vs. Canada

Blueberry River Indian Band v. Canada (Department of Indian Affairs & Northern Development)

Year: 1995

Court: Supreme Court of Canada

Citation: [1995] 4 S.C.R. 344

Location: BC

TAGS: Mineral/Mining/Natural Resources; Fiduciary Duty

An ongoing fiduciary duty exists, even if the sale of land terminated the fiduciary relationship. 

Summary:

In 1940, Blueberry River Indian Band surrendered the mineral rights on reserve land to the Crown. In 1945, the Band surrendered the reserve itself to the Crown. In 1948, the Crown sold the land and failed to reserve the mineral rights. Oil and gas were discovered on the land in 1956. In 1977, the Band discovered the Crown’s error and commenced an action claiming damages for the Crown permitting the transfer of mineral rights. At trial, the judge determined the action was barred by a 30-year limitation period. The band’s appeal was dismissed. They appealed further to the Supreme Court of Canada, who allowed the appeal.

Why this Case Matters: 

This case determined that even if a fiduciary duty was terminated with the sale of the land, there is still an ongoing fiduciary duty to correct any error in the best interests of the band, given the exceptional nature of s.64 of the Indian Act which would have allowed the Crown to revoke the erroneous transfer of the mineral rights.

Supreme Court Judgment:

https://www.canlii.org/en/ca/scc/doc/1995/1995canlii50/1995canlii50.html?autocompleteStr=%5B1995%5D%204%20S.C.R.%20344&autocompletePos=1

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