Cases - Aboriginal Law


Chief Simon et al. v. Attorney General of Canada, 2013 FC 1117, 2015 FCA 18 (under appeal)

In 2011 the Department of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada decided that, as of April 1, 2012, a strict and narrow reading of provincial social assistance rates and standards would apply to First Nations governments administering social assistance to First Nations people living on Indian Act reserves in Atlantic Canada.

We represent several First Nations groups in the Maritimes challenging this unilateral decision. Our clients argue the Crown is seeking to impose a whole new system for the administration of social assistance. First Nations received insufficient notice, no real opportunity to provide meaningful input, little training on the new system, no forms, no computerized system, and few answers to several serious concerns arising from the potential impacts of the changes.

On March 30, 2012 the Federal Court granted our motion for an injunction staying implementation of the Department's decision; the Federal Government's appeal of the interim injunction was dismissed November 28, 2012.

The claim was originally commenced by the Mi'gmaq of New Brunswick, but in June 2012 we sought to add other Maritime First Nations as applicants since they all will be adversely affected by the changes proposed by the government. Our motion was initially denied but we succeeded on appeal.

The judicial review hearing took place June 19 and 20, 2013, and on November 4, 2013 the Federal Court released its decision. The court found in our favour, overturning the government's decision on the basis that it was unreasonable: the government had not studied all potential serious impacts arising from the changes and also had not met its duty of procedural fairness to meaningfully consult with our clients.

The government filed an appeal of the Federal Court's decision, and on January 23, 2015 the Federal Court of Appeal overturned the ruling.  Our clients have sought leave to appeal the Federal Court of Appeal’s decision and we are now awaiting the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision in this regard. 

Burchells is happy to provide copies of original pleadings, orders, submission documents and court decisions upon request.



R. v. Sappier; R. v. Gray, [2006] 2 S.C.R. 686 (2006), 309 N.B.R. (2d) 199 (2006), 309 N.B.R. (2e) 199 (2006), 274 D.L.R. (4th) 75 (2006), 214 C.C.C. (3d) 161 [2007] 1 C.N.L.R. 359
We acted as Interveners for the Mi'gmawei Mawiomi and the New Brunswick Aboriginal Peoples Council.


R. v. Marshall; R. v. Bernard, [2005] 2 S.C.R. 220 (2005), 235 N.S.R. (2d) 151 (2005), 287 N.B.R. (2d) 206 (2005), 255 D.L.R. (4th) 1 (2005), 198 C.C.C. (3d) 2 [2005] 3 C.N.L.R. 214
We acted as Interveners for Keptin John Joe Sark and Keptin Frank Nevin (of the Mi'kmaq Grand Council), the Native Council of Nova Scotia and the New Brunswick Aboriginal Peoples Council.


R. v. Powley, [2003] 2 S.C.R. 207 (2003), 68 O.R. (3d) 255 (2003), 230 D.L.R. (4th) 1 (2003), 177 C.C.C. (3d) 193 (2003), 110 C.R.R. (2d) 92 [2003] 4 C.N.L.R. 321 (2003), 177 O.A.C. 201
We acted as Intervener for the Labrador Matis Nation.



Native Council of Nova Scotia v. Canada (Attorney General), 2007 FC 45 [2007] 2 C.N.L.R. 233
We acted as counsel for the Native Council of Nova Scotia.

Acadia Band v. Minister of National Revenue, 2007 FC 259 [2007] 2 C.T.C. 191 2007 G.T.C. 1465 (Eng.) [2007] G.S.T.C. 28 [2007] 3 C.N.L.R. 1
We acted as counsel for Acadia Band.



R. v. Lavigne, 2007 NBQB 171
We acted as counsel for Gerald Lavigne Jr.



Newfoundland and Labrador v. Labrador Metis Nation, 2007 NLCA 75
We acted as counsel for the Labrador Metis Nation