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CBA 2014 National Aboriginal Law Conference

posted Dec 29, 2014, 3:03 PM by Ciara Sebastian   [ updated Dec 29, 2014, 3:04 PM ]

Merrilee Rasmussen attended the Canadian Bar Association’s annual nationalconference on Aboriginal Law, which was held this year in Iqaluit, Nunavut. The theme of the conference was “Nation-Building under Land Claims Agreements, Treaties and Self-Government Agreements”. The conference was a great success, with engaging presentations by a number of notable experts, such as Grand Chief Matthew Coon Come, Tom Berger, Paul Okalik, Peter Hutchins, Bob Rae and Sheila Fraser, and many others.


Merrilee moderated a panel on “Implementation: What constitutes success or failure?”.  She also participated as a panellist in the closing session discussing “Lessons Learned”. Merrilee’s comments focussed on the duty to consult and the honour of the Crown. She noted that to date we have seen the impact of the duty to consult in judicial decisions relating to treaty negotiation and implementation: It is not honourable to negotiate for so long that rights are destroyed (so asserted rights must be protected in the interim); nor is it honourable to negotiate a treaty that cannot or will not be implemented (so obligations undertaken must be interpreted broadly and implemented diligently); and it is not honourable to pretend to set up an implementation process that will not be supported (so human and financial resources to provide for the possibility of successful implementation must be provided). The requirement that the Crown deal honourably with Aboriginal peoples also implies openness and frankness in negotiations, the necessity of negotiating from interests and not positions, and implementation of negotiated arrangements in good faith without delay.  Most importantly, negotiations between the Crown and Aboriginal peoples must be based on recognition and respect: recognition of Aboriginal rights and respect for Aboriginal governments as equal partners in the negotiation.


In 2015 the conference will be held in Cape Breton, at the Membertou First Nation Trade and Convention Centre.