R v Irngaut, 2020 NUCA 4

Application to strike appeal granted. It was determined that the Government of Nunavut did not have standing to launch an appeal for the summary conviction of a respondent who shot a caribou during a harvesting ban.

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The underlying issue in this summary conviction appeal is whether the respondent was entitled to a stay of a charge of unlawfully harvesting a caribou as a result of “officially induced error”. It was determined that the Government of Nunavut did not have standing to launch this appeal as a question of statutory interpretation. Appeals are created by statute and there is no right to appeal unless provided by statute. Although the determination of lack of standing sufficed to strike the appeal, the Court found it necessary to further discuss the substantive issue of what warrants an “officially induced error”, as it is not a defence.

The respondent is a resident of Igloolik, an avid hunter, and a member of the Canadian Rangers. During patrol with other Canadian Rangers, he stopped to camp for the night where Sgt. George Qattalik telephoned his father, Daniel Qattalik, who was an elder and a member of the local Hunters and Trappers Organization. Daniel Qattalik told his son that there was no ban on harvesting caribou in effect who then relayed this to the respondent. The respondent knew that there was a caribou hunting ban in place when he left Igloolik, and was surprised when he was told by the sergeant that his father said that there was no ban in place.

The next day the patrol spotted a herd of caribou. The respondent took at face value the information passed on to him, and shot one of the caribou. The trial judge found that the respondent had acted honestly and reasonably on the erroneous information received, entitling the respondent to raise “officially induced erroras a defence. The trial judge accordingly found that the offence had been proven, but entered a stay (R v Irngaut, 2019 NUCJ 4).

The finding of fact discloses no reviewable error, but the excuse of officially induced error fails on the reasonableness of the reliance on that advice and the official status of the source of the advice. Daniel Qattalik was an elder, which would give his advice social credibility, but that is not the equivalent of “official” status making his advice binding on the government. The Moratorium against caribou hunting was issued by the Minister of Wildlife under the Wildlife Act. Daniel Qattalik had no position with, or authority from, the Department or the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board. There is no evidence that Daniel Qattalik was even asked to provide advice in any official capacity.

In order to make out the excuse of officially induced error, the erroneous advice must usually come from the government agency directly involved in the relevant area of regulation. Further, in order to be “official”, the representation must generally have a level of formality to it. It will rarely be reasonable to rely on casual conversations with officials, particularly those made in an informal social setting (R v Jorgensen, [1995] 4 SCR 55; R v Ralph (2002), 220 Nfld & PEIR 351).

Kawaskimhon Moot (Opinion Piece)

Kawaskimhon Moot (Opinion Piece)

authored by our Pro Bono student volunteer Taylor Roufosse

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The Kawaskimhon Aboriginal Rights Moot is a non-competitive, round-table dispute resolution style of discussion designed to incorporate Indigenous values. In teams, we were to prepare a written argument for our client’s position which was presented to the circle, the ultimate goal being consensus on the issues put forward. This year, there was representation from all law schools in Canada – English common law and French civil law included.

The topic was chosen by Robson Hall, Faculty of Law. It surrounded implementing a Crown policy for the application of Gladue in Manitoba. The number of incarcerated Indigenous people have only gone up since the decision in R v Gladue from twenty years ago, which paints a bleak picture for Canada’s criminal justice system. The principles have been reiterated time and time again and yet misapplications and discord are still prevalent. At first, it felt daunting to tackle this question which was broad in scope and had so many complicated nuances attached.

Having access to resources through the Indigenous Law Centre allowed the University of Saskatchewan team to possess a deeper understanding of what Gladue has to offer the criminal justice system. Instead of focusing only on how Gladue can apply to sentencing, we were quick to realize it was more far-reaching than that. Indigenous people face an immense number of social issues due to historical and contemporary realities. Different concerns afflict certain communities. At our specific moot table, most if not all participants shared this opinion. It was uplifting to see so many law students understand how deep-rooted the topic of overincarceration of Indigenous peoples is and have such an acute sense of what it will take to eliminate it.

In law school there is a large focus placed on the competitive, adversarial moots. They are valuable and that should not be diminished, but the Kawaskimhon Moot has something unique and beautiful to offer students. The resident Elder Norman Meade, presented the Seven Grandfather Teachings, which was sensed throughout the experience: Humility in the way the students presented themselves; Bravery in the words spoken; Honesty about the systems shortcomings; Wisdom in the ideas put forward; Truth in the unequitable reality of Indigenous people; Respect for all involved; and Love in providing recognition for our accomplishments.

The Kawaskimhon Moot brings together Indigenous and non-Indigenous students to examine intricate problems surrounding the First Peoples of Canada, therefore advocating for reconciliation. Our adversarial legal system has come alive to the fact that dispute-resolution, consensus, harmony and balance have a meaningful and effective place. It is a hope that a growing number of students will recognize the significance of this moot and the benefit of the skills learned as we move forward into our careers around Canada. We find ourselves in an extremely uncertain and ever-changing time period. To be able to reflect on experiences such as this, while considering the current state of affairs, allows one to appreciate our humanity and willingness to come together.

R v Duncan, 2020 BCSC 590

Application granted. The Indigenous accused is to be released on bail, subject to stringent conditions, on the tertiary grounds for pre-trial custody in excess of 90 days and concerns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic in jails.

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This matter is a detention review hearing pursuant to s 525 of the Criminal Code. The 32 year old accused from Musqueam First Nation has been in pre trial custody for ten months. His custody relates to multiple alleged offences, including breaking and entering. As per the Gladue factors, his life reflects the intergenerational legacy of the horrific historical treatment of Aboriginal peoples in this country. The accused has a lengthy criminal history.

Counsel for the accused provided new evidence combined with a change in circumstances that warrants a re-visiting and reassessment of the restrictive and supervised treatment program at VisionQuest as a viable and proportionate alternative to the accused’s continued detention. It has culturally relevant programming and a high level of supervision.

The overarching question before the Court is whether the continued detention of the accused until his trial(s) is still justified on one or more of the three grounds specified in s 515(10) of the Criminal Code (R v Myers, 2019 SCC 18). The Court is satisfied that a release plan requiring the accused’s participation in VisionQuest’s isolated residential treatment program combined with strict mobility restrictions would be a culturally responsive and appropriate application of the Gladue factors in this particular case.

There also remains the question of the COVID-19 pandemic. Much of the case law that has developed thus far on this subject deals with the tertiary ground for detention. There are an increasing number of cases which have held that the risk of infection posed to inmates while incarcerated in detention centers awaiting trials is also a valid factor when considering the secondary ground for detention specified in s 515(10)(b) of the Criminal Code (R v TK, 2020 ONSC 1935).

The government is well aware of the risks involved and has implemented a number of measures designed to reduce the spread of the infection in jails. In this particular case Court already concluded that the accused’s proposed release plan satisfactorily addresses public safety concerns, however, COVID-19 concerns would have tipped the balance in favour of interim release rather than continued detention on secondary grounds. Although the break and enter offenses are serious, no physical violence was involved.

The accused is a drug addict with a criminal history of property crimes fuelled by his addiction. That addiction and most, if not all, of the disadvantages he has suffered in life are the product of the sad social problem that is the legacy of the mistreatment of Aboriginal peoples in Canada.

R v Lamb, 2020 NBCA 22

Leave to appeal granted and appeal allowed. The order of a new trial is set aside and trial judge decision is restored. A non-Indigenous woman that has a band status card does not give her the Aboriginal right to hunt under Section 35 of the Constitution Act.

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A non-Indigenous woman registered with an Indian Status membership from her late husband, self-represented and asserted she had a Section 35(2) Aboriginal right of the Constitution Act, 1982 to shoot a moose out of season, as she was using it to feed her family.

The fact she carried a status card and was considered a member of the Burnt Church First Nation community was not in question. The real issue was whether or not that status equated to the woman having the right to hunt moose out of the season, which is a recognized Aboriginal right guaranteed by s 35(2) of the Constitution Act, 1982.

The trial judge took the view, that in a situation such as this, the mere fact that a person holds a band card is insufficient to establish in and of itself their entitlement to constitutionally guaranteed Aboriginal rights. However, the Summary Conviction Appeal Court judge ordered a new trial. This Court determines that appeal was in error and restores the trial judge’s decision. The custodial sentence of seven days in jail and the fine of $2,000 are stayed.






Manitoba Metis Federation Inc v Brian Pallister et al, 2020 MBQB 49

Application for judicial review dismissed. The honour of the Crown does not entitle the Manitoba Métis Federation to any special procedural rights in relation to a Lieutenant Governor in Council’s policy decision in the circumstances of this case.

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This is an application for judicial review of the Lieutenant Governor in Council’s [“Cabinet”] decision to issue an Order in Council [“OIC”]. The Manitoba Métis Federation Inc [“MMF”] reasons for this application are that fundamental legal and constitutional issues and principles are at risk, including the honour of the Crown. The MMF contends that this is a case of first instance that is of significant importance to the MMF, Manitoba’s Crown corporations, as well as all Indigenous Peoples in Manitoba.

The OIC authorized the Minister of Crown Services to issue “A Directive to Manitoba Hydro Electric Board Respecting Agreements with Indigenous Groups and Communities” [“Directive”]. The Directive purports to seek to align the Government of Manitoba’s policies with the Manitoba Hydro Electric Board’s [“Hydro”] practices regarding all relationship and benefit agreements with Indigenous communities. It requires that any such agreements, including those being developed, either obtain ministerial approval or provide legally required mitigation or compensation measures that address thoroughly defined impacts.

The Court has determined that the honour of the Crown does not apply to the Directive. The Directive requires that relationship and benefit agreements with Indigenous groups provide legally required mitigation or compensation that will address thoroughly defined adverse impacts. If such is not provided, ministerial approval is needed. The Directive in question is a lawful exercise of Cabinet’s power to enforce its stewardship role over Hydro. The Cabinet’s authorization of the Directive and its involvement in, or effect on, the MMF’s negotiations with Hydro, does not engage or trigger the honour of the Crown and by extension, any of the duties that flow therefrom.

The Directive is a lawful and reasonable exercise of Cabinet’s statutory power to enforce its stewardship role over Hydro. Cabinet’s authorization of the Directive and any consequent involvement in or effect on the MMF’s negotiations with Hydro, do not engage the honour of the Crown. Neither the honour of the Crown nor the common law entitled the MMF to any special procedural rights in relation to a Cabinet policy decision in the circumstances of this case.

Jackie Vautour et al v HMQ in Right of the Province of New Brunswick and the Attorney General of Canada, 2020 NBQB 007

Motion for recusal denied. The Plaintiff’s asserted their rights as Métis Acadian Mi’kmaq as justification for filing a claim for damages in the creation of the Kouchibouguac National Park. Their allegations of bias and apprehension of bias towards this claim by this Court were without merit.

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The Plaintiff’s filed a claim stating that between 1969 and 1971, the Province of New Brunswick expropriated the lands of residents in Northern New Brunswick and transferred these lands to Canada for the creation of the Kouchibouguac National Park. It stated that the Park was not Crown land, and the Plaintiffs held Métis rights and title regarding the Park and therefore, damages were sought on numerous grounds. The Plaintiffs claimed rights as Métis Acadian Mi’kmaq who come within the meaning of s 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982.

After the hearing, the Plaintiffs filed a motion seeking recusal on allegations of a reasonable apprehension of bias. It was alleged that the exchange with counsel caused them to be of the view that the Court was biased (Commanda v Algonquins of Pikwakanagan First Nation, 2018 FC 606).

Every Canadian has the constitutional right to have their issues decided by a fair and impartial judge, and allegations of bias and recusal motions strike at the core of judicial integrity (R v RDS, [1997] 3 SCR 484). The test to determine a reasonable apprehension of bias is to ask, “what would an informed person, viewing the matter realistically and practically – and having thought the matter through – conclude” (Committee for Justice and Liberty v National Energy Board, [1978] 1 SCR 369). The objective for the Court is not just to ensure the process is fair; it is also to grant the appearance of a fair process (Yukon Francophone School Board Education Area No 23 v Yukon Territory (AG), 2015 SCC 25). The onus to establish reasonable bias is a “real likelihood or probability of bias” which is a high standard.

This Court determined that a reasonable, right-minded and informed person would view the comments at issue in this motion as encouraging the Plaintiff’s counsel to point to relevant evidence and to get to the point if there was a point to be made. The Plaintiffs’ perception of the comments demonstrates a view of the words used in isolation, detached from the hearing in which they occurred, with a special subjective sensitivity. This subjective sensitivity is inefficient to meet the objective test for a reasonable apprehension of bias.

The Plaintiff’s allegation does not give rise to bias or a reasonable apprehension of bias. To the contrary, the record is clear that the Court had an open mind to the Plaintiffs’ submission. After reviewing the judicial comments made during the hearing, it was determined that there was no reasonable apprehension of bias. Therefore, the Plaintiff’s allegations of bias and apprehension of bias were without merit, as the Court had an open mind to their submission.

R c Neeposh, 2020 QCCQ 1235

After careful consideration of sentencing principles and Gladue factors, the mandatory minimum sentence of four years for discharging a firearm while being reckless as to the life or safety of another person, is declared unconstitutional and inoperative with respect to the accused.

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 The accused discharged a firearm while being reckless as to the life or safety of another person as he was walking in the streets of Mistissini, an Aboriginal community. The accused acknowledges the facts but challenges the constitutional validity of the mandatory minimum sentence of four years.

The accused had a difficult childhood, and was also at the time of the offences having personal difficulties with his ex-girlfriend. After a night of heavy drinking, the accused got a hold of a firearm and discharged several shots. The most serious charge is of having intentionally discharged a firearm while being reckless as to the life or safety of another person.

This Court took into consideration the proportionate sentence in comparison to the minimum mandatory punishment, along with other principles of sentencing, including Gladue factors of the accused. It declares that the minimum mandatory punishment of imprisonment for a term of four years provided under section 244.2(3)(b) of the Criminal Code is unconstitutional and inoperative with respect to the accused.

The accused is to serve a sentence of imprisonment for a term of 571 days of imprisonment with a probation order for two years beginning upon release of the accused from custody, under further ancillary conditions including writing a letter of apology to the victims.


R v Hartling, 2020 ONCA 243

Conviction appeal dismissed. Sentence appeal allowed in part along with a stay of a second breach of probation charge. The Crown tried to rely on the delays involved in obtaining a Gladue report to justify the post-verdict delay.

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Following an afternoon of heavy drinking with her adult son and boyfriend, the complainant was seriously assaulted. She told first responders that her son was responsible. The son was charged. The mother testified for the Crown that her son attacked her and her boyfriend following an argument. Months later the trial resumed. This time the mother testified for the defence. She changed her testimony and said that it was her boyfriend, not her son, who attacked her.

The trial judge convicted her son for aggravated assault against his mother, assault causing bodily harm against the boyfriend and two counts of breach of probation. He was given a global sentenced of 30 months in custody. After considerable delays, the trial judge found the appellant guilty of aggravated assault against his mother, her boyfriend along with resisting arrest and two counts of breach of probation. Following 8.2 months of pretrial custody, he was sentenced to 21.8 months of incarceration.

The son appealed his convictions and sentence. However, the post-verdict delay was determined unacceptable to this Court. It took 14 months after conviction for the sentence to be imposed. This delay was not caused by ineffective judicial management. It was not caused by the appellant, nor was it caused directly by the actions of the prosecutor. It was caused by the lack of institutional resources to obtain a Gladue report. Immediately upon conviction, trial counsel obtained an order for a Gladue report from the trial judge. However, court administration services denied funding. Ultimately, the appellant, with the assistance of his counsel, chose to pay privately. The issue of post-verdict delay was addressed by this Court in R V Charley, 2019 ONCA 726 [“Charley”], where a presumptive ceiling of five months was set for the time from verdict to sentence.

In an attempt to justify the delay, the Crown alleged extraordinary circumstances because of the issues with the Gladue report and because the case was already in the system when Charley was decided. The Court does not accept that the circumstances are exceptional. It cannot be said that it is exceptional to require a Gladue report in the Algoma district where there is a large Indigenous population. Gladue reports were created in order to address systemic injustice that uniquely affects Indigenous offenders, and which leads to overrepresentation in the criminal justice system. A long delay undermines the purpose of the Gladue report by creating another level of unfairness. Moreover, to submit that the preparation of such a report is exceptional is untenable.

The appellant was entitled to a Gladue report, the trial judge ordered it, and subsequently relied on it. According to R v Jordan, 2016 SCC 27, the new framework, including the presumptive ceiling, applies to cases currently in the system, subject to qualifications but these qualifications do not apply in this matter. A 14-month delay was unreasonable and breached the appellant’s s 11(b) Charter rights.

A stay of a valid conviction would impact public confidence in the administration of justice. The possibility of vacating a valid conviction based on sentencing delay is “an unjustified windfall” for the accused (Betterman v Montana, 578 US, 136 S. Ct. 1609). The appropriate and just remedy here should target the sentence, not the conviction. The appellant was convicted of a violent offence against his mother in her home. It would bring the administration of justice into disrepute to stay the conviction. For the remedy to target the sentence, it must be based on and align with sentencing principles. The sentence is reduced by five months.

British Columbia (Child, Family and Community Service) v MJK, 2020 BCPC 39

Application dismissed. It is in the best interests of the child to remain in the custody of her foster parents than with her biological father, as she is connected to the biological mother’s First Nations cultures and is fluent in their language.

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The Director of Child, Family & Community Service [“Director”] has a continuing custody order made by this Court for a 6 year old child. The biological father, applies to set aside that order. However, there is no application before the Court to appoint him or anyone else to be the child’s guardian, and it is not clear who would be.

A biological parent is a guardian if and only if the biological parent “regularly cared for the child” (Family Law Act). The father has never had day-to-day care of the child, and so is not her guardian. The father’s application was opposed by the biological mother. Sadly, however, she recently died of a drug overdose and was unable to participate in the hearing. As well, the Director opposes the application. Three First Nations participated in the hearing, the Homalco and Klahoose First Nations, of which the mother was a member, and the Wuikinuxv First Nation, of which the father is a member.

The Federal Statute recognizes and affirms the right of First Nations to enact their own laws in relation to child custody and protection. None of the Wuikinuxv, Klahoose and Homalco First Nations have exercised that right. On an application to set aside a continuing custody order, the issue is not whether the child is in need of protection. Rather, the issues are: 1) whether there has been a significant change in the relevant circumstances since the continuing custody order was made; and 2) if so, whether cancellation of the continuing custody order is in the child’s best interest (Director of Child, Family & Community Service v AI, 2005 BCPC 620).

The father has clearly made significant progress with his substance abuse and anger- management issues, however, there is always a risk of relapse with every recovering addict and there is a history of violent behaviours. The Court is not in a position to quantify the risk of future family violence initiated by the father, but it is considered to be a real risk, which should not be ignored. Each of the governing statutes emphasizes the importance of fostering the child’s connection to, and participation in, the cultures of the First Nations of which she is a member.

The child has been an active participant in the Klahoose and Homalco cultures since she was 13 months old. Those cultures are fully-integrated aspects of her day-to-day life. She is fluent in their common language, and knows many of the traditional songs and dances by which the cultures are transmitted from generation to generation. She visits often with her maternal grandfather, with whom she speaks the language and participates in cultural activities. She engages in traditional food-gathering and preserving activities as part of her day-to-day life. The statutes do not allow the Court to prefer father’s interests at the expense of the child’s. The Court is of the opinion that the child’s best interests are served by remaining in her present placement, and that the application should be dismissed for that reason.

R v Evic, 2020 NUCJ 7

After weighing the sentencing principles with Gladue factors, the circumstances of the Indigenous offender after entering a guilty plea for aggravated assault resulted in an incarceration of 3 years, minus credit for pre-sentence custody. 

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The offender was convicted of aggravated assault pursuant to s 268(2) of the Criminal Code. The details of the offence are that the victim was at his friend’s home having drinks when the offender and his co-accused came over. An argument ensued with the victim before being physically attacked. The victim was punched and kicked until he was rendered unconscious. He did not fight back, and suffered bruising on the left arm and three serious lacerations to his scalp which required 16 staples to his head.

The offender is a 44-year-old Indigenous man who hunts and fishes for his family and donates some of his catch to elders. The offender is a carver for a living. He did not attend Residential School, and he was unsure if his biological mother did either. While the offender lives in a dry community, he reported extensive use of both drugs and alcohol. He has two children who live with their mother, and he provides financial support to them when he has the income. He has lost multiple family members to suicide. The offender has a record which includes offenses of possession of a weapon, assaults, theft, mischief, uttering threats, and failure to comply with an undertaking.

Following the sentencing principles of s 718 of the Criminal Code, the Court was required to ensure that the sentence was proportionate to the gravity of the offense and the degree of responsibility of the offender. The section also outlines other sentencing principles for the sentencing judge to consider in determining aggravating or mitigating circumstances which are supplemented by the analysis required by Gladue. The aggravating factors including the severity of the injuries to the victim, the fact that the attack was unprovoked, the offender’s serious criminal record for similar offenses, and his prior jail sentence. The mitigating factors included that the offender expressed remorse, his co-accused initiated the assault, he expressed a desire to change his ways and return to work, he has a support network and a close connection to the community. After considering these factors, the Court imposed a sentence of incarceration of 3 years minus credit for pre-sentence custody.