Attorney General of Newfoundland and Labrador v. Uashaunnuat (Innu of Uashat and of Mani-Utenam), et al.

(Quebec) (Civil) (By Leave)


Constitutional law - Aboriginal peoples, Aboriginal rights, Aboriginal title, Interjurisdictional immunity, Access to justice, Private international law, Jurisdiction of Quebec court, Crown law, Prerogatives, Immunity, Civil procedure, Pleadings - Constitutional law – Aboriginal peoples – Aboriginal rights – Aboriginal title – Interjurisdictional immunity – Access to justice – Private international law – Jurisdiction of Quebec court – Crown law – Prerogatives – Immunity – Civil Procedure – Pleadings – Motions to strike allegations dismissed – A number of Innu groups brought a civil action in Quebec against private entities operating in the mining sector for breach of their asserted but not yet proven Aboriginal rights – The land upon which the Aboriginal rights are asserted straddles the Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador border – Whether the Superior Court of Quebec has jurisdiction to make determinations as to Aboriginal rights and title in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador – Civil Code of Québec, arts. 3134, 3148(1) and 3152.


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The appeal arises in the context of two motions to strike the allegations of an originating application filed in Québec concerning rights exercised and property situated outside the province. The appellant, the Attorney General of Newfoundland and Labrador (the “AGNL”), argues that Québec courts are without jurisdiction to make determinations about activities and land located beyond the territorial limits of the province. The dispute in which the AGNL has become involved concerns the alleged breach of Aboriginal rights by private third parties who engaged in mining activities over lands bordering the provinces of Québec and Newfoundland and Labrador. The respondents are members of the Innu Nation. They brought an action in the Québec forum seeking damages as well as other forms of declaratory and injunctive relief against two of the interveners, the Iron Ore Company of Canada and the Québec North Shore and Labrador Railway Company (the “private mining entities”). The action is based on the industrial development of iron ore extraction undertaken in the 1950s. The respondents consider these activities to have affected the use and enjoyment of their ancestral territory, the Nitassinan, which is situated on the Québec-Labrador Peninsula. The private mining entities have their head offices in the province of Québec, but have facilities in Newfoundland and Labrador.