Aboriginal Practice Points … a free online resource

Aboriginal rights and legal issues affect practice in almost every area of law in BC. Thanks to Law Foundation funding, the CLE Society has recently helped to bridge the educational gap by producing materials that will assist lawyers when acting for Aboriginal clients or on legal matters involving Aboriginal interests.

A Sul-Sultun (spindle whorl carving by Charles Elliott) has adorned the UVic Faculty of Law since 1996, a symbol of hope for healing, harmony and balance between Anglo-Canadian and First Nations legal traditions.

Introduced on the site last fall, these papers will be maintained and updated through funding from the Law Society.

Visit the "Practice Desk" at the CLE website (www.cle.bc.ca) to browse the collection of 19 papers covering nine areas of law, including both key practice points and in-depth consideration from leading lawyers in the field.

Consider, for example, the set-up of a business on a reserve. Here are some of the questions to canvass:

  • What is the nature of your client? Are you dealing with a band, a tribal council, an Indian or a status Indian? If the party is not certain as to his, her or its status, this must be determined from the band or INAC.
  • Do you know the nature of the proposed business, and whether or not there are any special requirements arising from the business?
  • Does the client intend to set up the business on a reserve and, if so, does the client have any property rights on the reserve?
  • If the client does not have a Certificate of Possession, Certificate of Occupancy or a Custom Holding, does the client intend to lease property from another party? If the client is not a band member, he or she may not be able to lease except under ss. 28 or 58 of the Indian Act.
  • Who is the other party, and what is the nature of the land interest?
  • Does the band have any special zoning bylaws that might restrict use of the property?
  • Does the band have any special taxation bylaws that might affect your client?
  • Is there any provincial legislation of a general nature that might affect this particular business?
  • Does your client intend to take any partners into the business and, if so, what is their status?
  • Does your client have a business plan to determine the financial viability of the business? Has he or she discussed the business plan with an accountant? Does he or she have a pro forma to show projected income for the business?
  • Does your client need financing in order to proceed with the business?
  • Does your client have other assets off-reserve that might be available as collateral for a loan from a traditional lender?
  • Has your client made inquiries as to the availability of funding or loans from native organizations or government agencies?

For a consideration of these key points, see Setting up a Business on Reserve.

Also in the collection you will find: Commodity tax overview for First Nations . Indian real property taxation . Use of oral history evidence in Aboriginal rights litigation . Young Aboriginal offenders . Drafting trust agreements for First Nations . Aboriginal estates - policies and procedures of INAC, BC Region . Aboriginal tax planning . Representing Aboriginal plaintiffs in personal injury actions . Aboriginal persons in family law proceedings . Individual rights on reserve . Acquiring interests in reserve lands . Duty of business to consult with and accommodate First Nations . Understanding the development process: Structuring the lease for marketing and financing concerns . Estates under the Indian Act . Aboriginal families and the Child, Family and Community Service Act . Division of marital property when assets are located on a reserve . Wills for First Nations persons . Creditors' remedies under the Indian Act . Indian Lands Registry.

New Aboriginal law components for BC law schools

In 2004 the Law Society is expected to complete its funding of a three-year project to fund Aboriginal law modules for course curricula at the UBC and UVic law schools. The Benchers endorsed the project grant in 2002, one of several initiatives flowing from a study of Aboriginal law graduates. Through the work of summer student researchers, UBC and UVic have cooperated to prepare new course modules for criminal law, real property, constitutional law, administrative law, contracts, torts, evidence law, civil procedure, family law and succession.