Skip to main content

A Digest of First Nations News from Canada


OTTAWA - Todd Duchame has become the first Metis lawyer appointed as judge
in Canada.

Duchame, a certified specialist in criminal law, was appointed to the
Ontario Superior Court of Justice by Minister of Justice and Attorney
General of Canada Irwin Cotler officially on May 7. Metis National Council
President Clem Chartier congratulated Duchame in a prepared statement on
May 10 and described the appointment of a Metis as judge as "long overdue."
The Metis Nation of Ontario president said the appointment was a reflection
of Duchame's personal ability and cause for "great celebration."

"Justice Duchame is a role model for me and other young Metis lawyers, law
students and youth considering a legal career," said General Council to the
Metis Nation Jason Madden. "He stands as an example of the talent that lies
within the Metis Nation to contribute to Canada's legal profession. It is a
proud day for us."

Justice Duchame brings serious credentials to the bench according to
information provided by the MNC. He holds advanced legal degrees from the
law schools at the University of Toronto and Yale University. Duchame has
also served as the clinic director for Aboriginal Legal Service of Toronto
and currently serves as the director of Native Child and Family Service of


FREDERICTON, New Brunswick - The Supreme Court of Canada announced on May 3
it has agreed to hear an appeal of a key decision on Aboriginal treaty
rights filed by the provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

The original decision by the high court involved the conviction of Stephen
Marshall Jr. and over 30 other members of the Mi'kmaq tribe for illegally
harvesting fish without a license off the Atlantic coast in 1999. The
justices agreed with the defenses' argument the First Nations fisherman
were guaranteed the right to hunt and fish and to maintain a moderate
living from doing so by 18th century treaties and dismissed the charges.
Since the Marshall decision was handed down it has been used a precedent in
several cases in both of the provinces by Aboriginals seeking to guarantee
their treaty access to natural resources on territory controlled by the
federal or provincial governments.

The appeals filed by both provinces, to be heard sometime in 2005, are
focused on logging cases. In the New Brunswick appeal, the province is
seeking to reverse the overturning of the conviction of Joshua Bernard of
the Eel Ground Reserve for harvesting 23 spruce logs from government land
for sale in 2000. In the Nova Scotia appeal, the province is also seeking
to return the conviction of 35 First Nations loggers for harvesting lumber
for profit on government land. The provinces' arguments are both based on
the premise the Supreme Court erred in its earlier interpretation and no
treaty rights exists allowing the First Nations to harvest trees on
government land.

An affirmation of the Marshall decision will obviously be good news for
First Nations seeking to establish economic self-sufficiency, but a blow to
the big business of commercial logging. Groups favoring overturning the
Marshall decision have told the Canadian media that special access to
natural resources based on race is discriminatory to non-Aboriginal loggers
and fishermen. Surprisingly, some Aboriginal rights advocates are welcoming
the appeal.

"It means the Supreme Court, authors of the original Marshall decision,
will get the opportunity to determine how to handle forests and trees,"
commented Bruce Wildsmith, a Native rights lawyer, to the Canadian Press
news service on May 3.