Fraser Institute News Release: Supreme Court decision may allow Indigenous groups outside Canada to claim rights inside Canada

Vancouver, British Columbia, CANADA

VANCOUVER, British Columbia, March 22, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Last year a decision by the Supreme Court of Canada set a precedent, which may open the door for Indigenous groups outside Canada to claim certain rights—including title and constitutionally protected rights—within Canada’s borders, finds a new study released today by the Fraser Institute, an independent, non-partisan Canadian public policy think-tank.

“While the Court’s decision garnered little attention, it may have profound and far-reaching implications across the country,” said Dwight Newman, law professor at the University of Saskatchewan and author of The SCOC and Transboundary Indigenous Rights Claims: Understanding the Implications of the 2021 Decision in Desautel.

In April 2021, in a majority decision (in the R. v. Desautel case), the Supreme Court ruled for the first time that the term “Aboriginal peoples of Canada” could include Indigenous communities that today exist entirely outside of Canada.

As a result, Indigenous communities now located in other countries but with historic connections to territories in Canada—and there are a number of communities along the U.S. and Greenland borders—may seek to claim certain rights (including land claims) in Canada.

“While the exact implications of this decision remain unclear, it’s significantly complicated the already complex field of Indigenous rights and has likely triggered future litigation,” Newman said.

Dwight Newman, Professor of Law
University of Saskatchewan

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The Fraser Institute is an independent Canadian public policy research and educational organization with offices in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, and Montreal and ties to a global network of think-tanks in 87 countries. Its mission is to improve the quality of life for Canadians, their families and future generations by studying, measuring and broadly communicating the effects of government policies, entrepreneurship and choice on their well-being. To protect the Institute’s independence, it does not accept grants from governments or contracts for research. Visit