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The Crown’s Fiduciary Relationship with Aboriginal Peoples

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PPGPortal > Home > Concept Dictionary > T, U, V > The Crown’s Fiduciary Relationship with Aboriginal Peoples


PPGPortal > Home > Concept Dictionary > T, U, V > The Crown’s Fiduciary Relationship with Aboriginal Peoples
The Crown’s Fiduciary Relationship with Aboriginal Peoples

Refers to the legal responsibility of The Crown to maintain a relationship of trust and confidence with Aboriginal Peoples in Canada.

(The Crown’s Fiduciary Relationship with Aboriginal Peoples. Library of Parliament – Parliamentary Information and Research Service. Retrieved from


(Fiduciary Relationship: a relationship of trust and confidence between two parties)

“Canada’s Aboriginal peoples have always held a unique legal and constitutional position.  In the Royal Proclamation of 1763, often referred to as the “Magna Carta of Indian Rights,” the colonial British Crown found it just and reasonable, and essential to our Interest, and the Security of our Colonies, that the several Nations or Tribes of Indians with whom We are connected, and who live under our Protection, should not be molested or disturbed in the Possession of such Parts of Our Dominions and Territories as, not having been ceded to or purchased by Us, are reserved to them, or any of them, as their Hunting Grounds.

Emphasizing the Crown’s concern with the “great Frauds and Abuses” committed by purchasers of Aboriginal lands, the Royal Proclamation reserved to the Crown the exclusive right to negotiate cessions (giving up) of Aboriginal title.  A century later, subsection 91(24) of the Constitution Act, 1867 granted the federal Parliament legislative authority over “Indians, and Lands Reserved for the Indians.”  Surrenders and designations of reserve land under the Indian Act, the principal vehicle for the exercise of federal jurisdiction over “status Indians” since 1876, reflect the “protective” provisions of the Royal Proclamation.  In practice, pre- and post-Confederation federal governments negotiated surrenders of vast Aboriginal territories in major treaties concluded throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries, largely in Ontario and the western provinces excluding British Columbia.  Finally, section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982 recognizes and affirms “existing aboriginal and treaty rights” of Canada’s Aboriginal peoples, defined as including the “Indian, Inuit and Métis peoples.”  In R. v. Van der Peet (1996),(1) the Supreme Court of Canada commented that the doctrine of aboriginal rights exists, and is recognized and affirmed by s. 35(1), because of one simple fact:  when Europeans arrived in North America, aboriginal peoples were already here, living in communities on the land, and participating in distinctive cultures, as they had done for centuries.  It is this fact … above all others, which separates aboriginal peoples from all other minority groups in Canadian society and which mandates their special legal, and now constitutional, status.”.

Approved for glossaryposting by Ben Eisen on January 28, 2011

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