Bruce McIvor

Bruce McIvor Writing about and explaining Indigenous rights and Aboriginal law for non-lawyers. Proud to be a Cer My family was dispossessed of its land at St.
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I'm a passionate advocate for defending and advancing Indigenous rights.

10 years ago I founded First Peoples Law, one of Canada's leading law firms working solely on behalf of First Nations. I'm grateful to my colleagues for recognizing me nationally and internationally as one of Canada’s leading lawyers in Aboriginal law. I represent First Nations across Canada and teach at the University of Br

itish Columbia’s Allard School of Law. My great-grandparents took Métis scrip at Red River in Manitoba. Peter's and moved, along with the Peguis First Nation, 200 kms north where they started over again doing their best to farm between swamps and rock ridges. Picking rocks as a kid was one of my motivations for going to university and ultimately becoming a lawyer. I'm a member of the Manitoba Métis Federation. On my way to becoming a lawyer, I completed a Ph.D. in environmental history and was award a Fulbright Scholarship which allowed me the opportunity to study at the University of Washington and the University of Kansas where I learned a lot and made life-long friends. My life-partner, Emilie, and I live on the east side of Vancouver. We are blessed with three beautiful children. Emilie and I are thankful for all the support and opportunities we've had and believe it is important to give back where we can. I volunteer as a member of the Board of Directors of Amnesty International Canada (English Division), the Editorial Board of Canadian Lawyer Magazine, and the Board of Trustees of the Unitarian Church of Vancouver. I love playing hockey, listening to baseball and reading novels.

Here's my latest one-minute summary of an important legal decision.
02/19/2023

Here's my latest one-minute summary of an important legal decision.

WHY IS THE ST. CATHERINE’S MILLING DECISION IMPORTANT?

By Bruce McIvor

The St. Catherine’s Milling (1888) decision is important because it was the first major Canadian court case to consider the relationship between Indigenous Peoples’ legal interests over their lands and the legal interests of the federal and provincial governments.

The case was the result of a dispute between the federal and Ontario governments over logging rights in north-western Ontario—Indigenous Peoples were not directly involved. The federal government argued the lands had been owned by the Anishinaabe and that their land rights had passed to the federal government through Treaty #3. Ontario insisted that it held title to the lands.

The case was ultimately heard by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in England, which was the highest court for Canadian legal disputes until 1949.

The Privy Council decided that while the federal government had the right to pass laws affecting ‘Indians’ and their lands, Ontario had acquired the beneficial interest in Indigenous Peoples’ lands (except for Indian reserves), not the federal government.

St. Catherine’s Milling imported the doctrine of discovery, which had been pronounced by the US Supreme Court in the 1820s, into Canadian law. The Canadian Supreme Court has continued to rely on the doctrine as fundamental to its interpretation of section 35(1) of the Constitution.

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Have a question about Indigenous rights? Submit your questions @
https://buff.ly/3LPKJwM and Bruce will answer as many as possible in the monthly newsletter.

Sign up for our mailing list @
https://buff.ly/3MydHSP to get future installments of "Indigenous Rights in One Minute" straight to your inbox.

Did you miss last month's post? Check out Bruce's answers to other questions @
https://buff.ly/3NhyYQI

Check out the swag!
02/10/2023

Check out the swag!

"The appointment also exemplifies how decolonization creates complicated challenges for Indigenous people. When they ins...
11/19/2022
Lessons from Justice Michelle O'Bonsawin's appointment to the Supreme Court of Canada

"The appointment also exemplifies how decolonization creates complicated challenges for Indigenous people. When they insist on fundamental change, critics accuse them of being unrealistic. When they accept incremental change, any success can become the ceiling."

Thanks to Canadian Lawyer Magazine for publishing my opinion piece on Justice O'Bonsawin's appointment to the Supreme Court.

The SCC's first Indigenous judge is good news, but full decolonization will take much longer

I hope to see some of you in-person at this conference I'll be chairing with Tumia Knott. There will be really good conv...
10/24/2022
Aboriginal Law Conference 2022 | CLE BC Online Store

I hope to see some of you in-person at this conference I'll be chairing with Tumia Knott. There will be really good conversations about leading edge issues. Register today to get the discount!

The Aboriginal Law Conference will focus on the legal and pragmatic implications of developments affecting Indigenous peoples, governments, and industry.

I flew from Halifax to Vancouver yesterday, 4430 km. Even if I'd been on a direct flight, it would have taken me less ti...
10/21/2022

I flew from Halifax to Vancouver yesterday, 4430 km. Even if I'd been on a direct flight, it would have taken me less time to fly to Paris or London. Other than Russia, is there another country u can fly that far within the same country?

Today I finished this 'proto-feminist' Victorian novel. I'm glad I read it.I've read well over a 1,000 novels, but I can...
10/20/2022

Today I finished this 'proto-feminist' Victorian novel. I'm glad I read it.

I've read well over a 1,000 novels, but I can't think of another that has such well developed characters (Rhoda and Everard) who struggle to forge a path to a relationship while remaining sceptical of the institution of marriage.

I you are interested but prefer an audio version, check out this BCC adaptation:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m001cwt9

I have time before my flight home to Vancouver later today so I rented a car to drive out to some of the locations where...
10/20/2022

I have time before my flight home to Vancouver later today so I rented a car to drive out to some of the locations where my Acadian ancestors arrived nearly 400 years ago.

Thx to Bookmark books in Halifax for carrying my book!
10/17/2022

Thx to Bookmark books in Halifax for carrying my book!

Just had a great day meeting with the team at First Peoples Law's new Ottawa office. Very inspiring to talk to them abou...
10/14/2022

Just had a great day meeting with the team at First Peoples Law's new Ottawa office. Very inspiring to talk to them about the work they are doing for First Nations across the country.

Here's my latest one-minute summary of an important Indigenous law issue. Let me know what you think of it.
08/17/2022

Here's my latest one-minute summary of an important Indigenous law issue. Let me know what you think of it.

WHY IS THE CALDER DECISION IMPORTANT?

By Bruce McIvor

The Calder decision is important because it confirmed that Aboriginal rights are derived from Indigenous Peoples’ occupation of their lands before colonizers arrived.

In the late 1960s, the Nisga’a asked the court to declare that their Aboriginal title to over 1,000 square miles of their territory in northwestern British Columbia continued to exist, despite over 100 years of colonization.

Three of members of the Supreme Court decided Nisga’a Aboriginal title no longer existed because it was incompatible with the Crown’s obvious intent to exercise complete control over Nisga’a land.

Three judges concluded there was no evidence the Crown had clearly intended to do away with Nisga’a title, therefore it might still exist.

The seventh judge, supported by the first three, concluded that the Nisga’a’s claim should be dismissed because the Nisga’a had not received permission from British Columbia to file it.

Because four of the seven judges were in favour of dismissing the claim based on the Crown not agreeing to it being filed, the Nisga’a technically lost. Nonetheless, Calder established that Aboriginal title, if it did exist, was based on Indigenous Peoples’ pre-existing right to the land and not on the Crown’s favour or generosity.

The most quoted words from the decision were written by one of the judges who rejected the Nisga’a’s claim: “the fact is that when the settlers came, the Indians were there, organized in societies and occupying the land as their forefathers had done for centuries.”

In response to the decision, Prime Minister Trudeau Sr. is reported to have said "Maybe you have more rights than we thought." In the wake of Calder, the federal government changed its policy regarding Aboriginal title and rights to allow for the negotiation of “land claims” with Indigenous Peoples.

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Have a question about Indigenous rights? Submit your questions @ https://bit.ly/3b2dv0V and Bruce will answer as many as possible in the monthly newsletter.

Sign up for our mailing list @ https://bit.ly/3PxLj4O to get future installments of "Indigenous Rights in One Minute" straight to your inbox.

Did you miss last month's post? Check out Bruce's answers to other questions @ https://www.firstpeopleslaw.com/public-education/indigenous-rights-in-one-minute

Bruce McIvor, lawyer and historian, is partner at First Peoples Law LLP. He is also an Adjunct Professor at the University of British Columbia’s Allard School of Law where he teaches the constitutional law of Aboriginal and Treaty rights. A member of the bar in British Columbia and Ontario, Bruce is recognized nationally and internationally as a leading practitioner of Aboriginal law in Canada. Bruce's ancestors took Métis scrip at Red River in Manitoba. He holds a law degree, a Ph.D. in Aboriginal and environmental history, is a Fulbright Scholar and author of Standoff: Why Reconciliation Fails Indigenous People and How to Fix It. He is a member of the Manitoba Métis Federation.

First Peoples Law is a law firm dedicated to defending and advancing the rights of Indigenous Peoples in Canada. We work closely with First Nations to defend their Aboriginal title, rights and Treaty rights, uphold their Indigenous laws and governance and ensure economic prosperity for their members.

Chat with us @ https://www.firstpeopleslaw.com/

Thank you to Dan and Kelly at Reconciliation Road for inviting me to participate in this important dialogue.Friends, ple...
01/28/2022

Thank you to Dan and Kelly at Reconciliation Road for inviting me to participate in this important dialogue.

Friends, please take a minute to check out their past episodes with: Dr. Bonnie Henry & Dr. Daniele Behn Smith, Kupi7 Mike LeBourdais, Minister Nathan Cullen, Niilo Edwards, Chief Sharleen Gale and Grand Chief Steven Point. It's an honour to be in such esteemed company!

Thank you to Dan and Kelly at Reconciliation Road for inviting me to participate in this important dialogue.Friends, ple...
01/28/2022

Thank you to Dan and Kelly at Reconciliation Road for inviting me to participate in this important dialogue.

Friends, please take a minute to check out their past episodes with: Dr. Bonnie Henry & Dr. Daniele Behn Smith, Kupi7 Mike LeBourdais, Minister Nathan Cullen, Niilo Edwards, Chief Sharleen Gale and Grand Chief Steven Point. It's an honour to be in such esteemed company.

Thx Laughing Oyster Bookshop for carrying my book!
12/17/2021

Thx Laughing Oyster Bookshop for carrying my book!

Faced with a constant stream of news reports of standoffs and confrontations, Canada’s “reconciliation project” has obviously gone off the rails. In this series of concise and thoughtful essays, lawyer and historian Bruce McIvor explains why reconciliation with Indigenous peoples is failing and what needs to be done to fix it.

Widely known as a passionate advocate for Indigenous rights, McIvor reports from the front lines of legal and political disputes that have gripped the nation. From Wet’suwet’en opposition to a pipeline in northern British Columbia, to Mi’kmaw exercising their fishing rights in Nova Scotia, McIvor has been actively involved in advising First Nation clients, fielding industry and non-Indigenous opposition to true reconciliation, and explaining to government officials why their policies are failing.

McIvor’s essays are honest and heartfelt. In clear, plain language he explains the historical and social forces that underpin the development of Indigenous law, criticizes the current legal shortcomings and charts a practical, principled way forward.

By weaving in personal stories of growing up Métis on the fringes of the Peguis First Nation in Manitoba and representing First Nations in court and negotiations, McIvor brings to life the human side of the law and politics surrounding Indigenous peoples’ ongoing struggle for fairness and justice. His writing covers many of the most important issues that have become part of a national dialogue, including systemic racism, treaty rights, violence against Indigenous people, Métis identity, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP) and the duty to consult.

McIvor’s message is consistent and powerful: if Canadians are brave enough to confront the reality of the country’s colonialist past and present and insist that politicians replace empty promises with concrete, meaningful change, there is a realistic path forward based on respect, recognition and the implementation of Indigenous rights.

Web store link: https://www.laughingoysterbooks.com/?q=h.tviewer&using_sb=status&qsb=keyword&qse=wsxHDXv980Sy972IscJz-Q

Pop up book signing at Vancouver law conference to raise money for the Indian Residential School Survivors Society. Than...
11/17/2021

Pop up book signing at Vancouver law conference to raise money for the Indian Residential School Survivors Society. Thanks, Sherry, for helping out and everyone who bought a copy!

Looking forward to speaking to the CBC’s Carolina de Ryk  this morning at 10:30 about why reconciliation is failing Indi...
11/15/2021

Looking forward to speaking to the CBC’s Carolina de Ryk this morning at 10:30 about why reconciliation is failing Indigenous people and how to fix it.

We’re not quite finished, but check out my new website. Tell me what you think. Sign up for my email list and get a free...
11/08/2021

We’re not quite finished, but check out my new website. Tell me what you think. Sign up for my email list and get a free excerpt of Standoff sent to your inbox:

www.brucemcivor.com

Thanks to Stir Magazine for listing my book Standoff as a book that contributes to changing the world for the better."Mc...
11/06/2021
Reading List: November reads bring cause for hope — Stir

Thanks to Stir Magazine for listing my book Standoff as a book that contributes to changing the world for the better.

"McIvor has reported from the frontlines of legal and political disputes and often explains to government officials why their policies are failing. He writes, 'Ignorance is not an absence. Ignorance is a force. It justifies. It silences. It perpetuates.'

But, there is hope. As he continues: 'The past is more than a memory. It can oppress. It can light the way. The choice is ours.” McIvor’s essays are necessary reading as we make that choice for the better.'"

https://www.createastir.ca/articles/reading-list-november-cause-for-hope

The team at Upstart & Crow shares recommendations for books that can change the world for the better

Thanks to BC Studies for republishing one of my essays from Standoff in its Autumn, 2021 edition.
11/03/2021

Thanks to BC Studies for republishing one of my essays from Standoff in its Autumn, 2021 edition.

Wow, my book is  #4 on Amazon’s “Hot New Releases” in its Indigenous Peoples Studies category. Thanks everyone for your ...
10/29/2021

Wow, my book is #4 on Amazon’s “Hot New Releases” in its Indigenous Peoples Studies category. Thanks everyone for your interest!

Shame.
10/28/2021

Shame.

I'll be speaking to a Fort Nelson Secondary School class today about Canada's genocide against Indigenous people.Thank y...
10/27/2021
How Canada changed the definition of genocide while engaging in crimes against Indigenous Peoples

I'll be speaking to a Fort Nelson Secondary School class today about Canada's genocide against Indigenous people.

Thank you to Tamara Starblanket for her important book _Suffer the Little Children_ and for this short video outlining the case against Canada for genocide.

Tamara Starblanket is the recipient of the 2020 Nora and Ted Sterling Prize in Support of Controversy for her book Suffer the Little Children: Genocide, Indi...

Thanks to Banyen Books in Vancouver for carrying Standoff--I love that it's shelved under "Racism & Reconciliation."
10/26/2021

Thanks to Banyen Books in Vancouver for carrying Standoff--I love that it's shelved under "Racism & Reconciliation."

ADVANCE PRAISE FOR STANDOFF“This a great book. I highly recommend it to those who want to gain an understanding about In...
10/24/2021

ADVANCE PRAISE FOR STANDOFF

“This a great book. I highly recommend it to those who want to gain an understanding about Indigenous Peoples and Canadian law without going to law school. The book goes beyond Canadian law and looks at Indigenous law as well. It is easy to read and understand and has the added chapter summaries of "Why it Matters". I definitely recommend this book.”

Bev Sellars, author of Price Paid: The Fight for First Nations Survival

"There is a rising tension all over Turtle Island - a tension that originates in the colonization of Indigenous territories and is fuelled by ongoing injustices against Indigenous peoples. Indigenous Nations are rising in ever greater numbers to defend our lands, waters and peoples against Canada's devastating breaches of our sovereignty, laws, and rights. STANDOFF is a powerful collection of essays by well-respected lawyer Bruce McIvor who provides an incisive critique of Canada's so-called rule of law and its role in perpetuating the ongoing oppression of Indigenous peoples - grave human rights violations that simply cannot continue if we are to move forward together in peace as envisioned by the treaties. This book is a must-read for every Mayor, Premier, Prime Minister and their bureaucrats."

Dr. Pamela D. Palmater, author of Warrior Life: Indigenous Resistance and Resurgence

"Canada's vision of reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples is crap. It's nice to see a book that shares this view. Read it and learn."

Tim Fontaine
Walking Eagle News

"Bruce McIvor has been at the forefront of dismantling Canada’s colonial legal system and the mindset that sustains the continued denial of the rights of Indigenous peoples for decades as a masterful scholar, advocate and Indigenous thought leader. In all of this work, Bruce embraces cultural humility and defers to the voices of his client, bringing wisdom and collaboration in each step of this arduous journey."

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond (Aki-Kwe)

PRE-ORDER STANDOFF FROM AN INDIGENOUS-OWNED BOOKSTORE
10/24/2021
Standoff

PRE-ORDER STANDOFF FROM AN INDIGENOUS-OWNED BOOKSTORE

Why Reconciliation Fails Indigenous People and How to Fix It

10/24/2021

STANDOFF BOOK DESCRIPTION

Faced with a constant stream of news reports of standoffs and confrontations, Canada’s “reconciliation project” has obviously gone off the rails. In this series of concise and thoughtful essays, lawyer and historian Bruce McIvor explains why reconciliation with Indigenous peoples is failing and what needs to be done to fix it.

Widely known as a passionate advocate for Indigenous rights, McIvor reports from the front lines of legal and political disputes that have gripped the nation. From Wet’suwet’en opposition to a pipeline in northern British Columbia, to Mi’kmaw exercising their fishing rights in Nova Scotia, McIvor has been actively involved in advising First Nation clients, fielding industry and non-Indigenous opposition to true reconciliation, and explaining to government officials why their policies are failing.

McIvor’s essays are honest and heartfelt. In clear, plain language he explains the historical and social forces that underpin the development of Indigenous law, criticizes the current legal shortcomings and charts a practical, principled way forward.

By weaving in personal stories of growing up Métis on the fringes of the Peguis First Nation in Manitoba and representing First Nations in court and negotiations, McIvor brings to life the human side of the law and politics surrounding Indigenous peoples’ ongoing struggle for fairness and justice. His writing covers many of the most important issues that have become part of a national dialogue, including systemic racism, treaty rights, violence against Indigenous people, Métis identity, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP) and the duty to consult.

McIvor’s message is consistent and powerful: if Canadians are brave enough to confront the reality of the country’s colonialist past and present and insist that politicians replace empty promises with concrete, meaningful change, there is a realistic path forward based on respect, recognition and the implementation of Indigenous rights.

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Vancouver, BC

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"Reconciliation fails Indigenous people, and all of Canada, because it rests on a legal house of cards—the morally reprehensible Doctrine of Discovery. By finally and officially rejecting the doctrine, Canada will be able to enter a relationship of respect and coexistence with Indigenous peoples—respecting their inherent rights and the right to protect their land and their children."
Bruce McIvor

http://www.nationalmagazine.ca/en-ca/articles/law/opinion/2022/the-pope,-the-cbc-and-me
"With Standoff, McIvor invites general readers to learn about Canadian law, so that they can understand how it has been used to both break and remake relationships with Indigenous peoples."

Standoff: Why Reconciliation Fails Indigenous People and How to Fix It, by Bruce McIvor, was reviewed in Literary Review of Canada!

Read the article here: https://reviewcanada.ca/magazine/2022/05/a-neglected-pledge/