The extradition of Leonard Peltier, hunting and fishing rights, treaty negotiations, residential school claims, Delgamuukw: for over 30 years Peter Grant has been at the forefront of the legal struggle of Aboriginal peoples in Canada.

Peter Grant Law

Welcome to the law firm of Peter Grant Law previously known as Peter Grant & Associates.

Peter is proud to work in collaboration with other like-minded lawyers to advocate for Indigenous peoples whether in the Courts, negotiations or public education on Indigenous rights.  In doing so, he intends to continue with the philosophy of his advocacy that he has practiced throughout his career.

“Law is not an instrument for guaranteeing exact justice, but rather one for preventing the grosser kinds of injustice.”1

With respect to Indigenous peoples of Canada, for most our history, law failed to even prevent  “the grosser kinds of injustice”.   Indeed, as the Supreme Court of Canada has stated, Indigenous rights have been ignored since the early 20th century.2   In the context of  Aboriginal law over the last 40 years,  the task has been not to follow the law but to make the law.

1 J. A Corry,  The Power of the Law 1971 CBC Massey Lecture

2 “ And there can be no doubt that over the years the rights of the Indians were often honoured in the breach ,,,.    For many years, the rights of the Indians to their aboriginal lands ‑- certainly as legal rights -‑ were virtually ignored.” R. v. Sparrow, [1990] 1 S.C.R. 1075

Practice Focus

The task is not to follow the law but to make the law.

This is not an easy objective and was certainly more difficult in the mid-1970’s when Peter started his career.  In working on these goals, Peter focussed on the following areas

Peter specialized particularly in:

  • litigation of aboriginal rights and title;
  • negotiation of resource development agreements between Indigenous governments and corporate and Crown parties;
  • negotiating treaties of peace and friendship between neighbouring aboriginal nations;
  • negotiation of Land transfers to Reserve status that had been unlawfully taken; and
  • precedential litigation and negotiation of Residential School claims.

Litigation of aboriginal rights & title

Peter was counsel for the Gitxsan and the Wet’suwet’en  in the precedent-setting Aboriginal title case known as Delgamuukw v. The Queen up to the Supreme Court of Canada and developed the evidence and arguments in support of recognition of oral histories as well as the proof of their Aboriginal title. (1983-1997)

In making new law in this area, Peter was counsel for the late Maklakleh,  Johnny David,  a Wet’suwet’en chief whose protection of his territory through trapline registration had been weakened by continued removal of parts of his territory from the registration.(1980-81)

Peter was counsel for a Wet’suwet’en fisher, Jerry Nikal, and fought for his aboriginal fishing rights in the Moricetown Canyon and also for the determination that the canyon formed part of the reserve lands (1990-1995)  On the first basis he was successful  but the Bulkley River was determined not to be part of the reserve lands.

In 2014, Peter succeeded in enjoining Canfor from logging in the Kelah territory,  a Wet’suwet’en House territory, and then negotiated an agreement with the Province that the area would be permanently protected from resource development.

Between 2008 and 2019, Peter represented the Nak’azdli and Tl’azh’ten Nations in suing Canada for breach of the 1911 Barricade Treaty by which Canada promised compensation in exchange for the removal of weirs.

Negotiation of resource development agreements between Indigenous governments & corporations

Peter has negotiated complex accommodation agreements with respect to oil and gas developments in northeast British Columbia and compensation from BC Hydro for damages to reserve lands.

Negotiating overlap agreements including treaties of peace & friendship between neighbouring aboriginal nations

Peter negotiated a treaty between two indigenous nations and was involved in bringing the elders of both nations together in a safe environment for the issue to be resolved by the recounting of their respective oral histories.  After three days of discussions by the elders of the two Nations,  an agreement to resolve the boundaries consistent with the histories of the Nations was achieved.

Negotiation of Land transfers to Reserve status that had been unlawfully taken & compensation

Peter successfully assisted First Nation governments to negotiate extensive compensation for the wrongful taking of reserve lands without consent or even consultation for road purposes in several parts of British Columbia.

Litigation & negotiation of Residential School claims

Peter was counsel for the Plaintiffs in the seminal Blackwater v. Plint;  Aleck v. Clarke and FSM v. Clarke cases in the late 1990’s which were the first  residential school cases to go to trial.  He argued appeals in the Blackwater and Aleck cases in the BC Court of Appeal and in the former case all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada.

This litigation, together with class actions commenced in other provinces and the political action of the former national Chief of the AFN,  Phil Fontaine,  led to the negotiation of the Indian Residential School Agreement in 2006.   Peter was directly involved in those negotiations and has remained a representative on the National Administration Committee responsible for implementing that Agreement.  Since 2010,  Peter has been the chair of the National Administration Committee.

He successfully argued for protection of the confidentiality of residential school claimants records unless they consented otherwise in the Ontario Superior Court,  Ontario Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Canada.

Background

Peter Grant’s Biography

Peter has practiced Aboriginal law since 1976. He first became involved in looking at Aboriginal issues when he worked for Leonard Peltier as part of the defence team in his 1975 extradition. Mr. Peltier had been active in an AIM campaign to protect the Blackhills of South Dakota.

Peter has appeared in the Supreme Court of Canada on eleven occasions on behalf of Indigenous clients.

From 1977 to 1995 Peter lived and worked in the Gitxsan territory and practiced law principally for the Gitxsan and the Wet’suwet’en in north central British Columbia. He was counsel in Delgamuukw v. The Queen which went to the Supreme Court of Canada.

Between 1995 and 2018, Peter was a principal in the law firm of Hutchins Soroka & Grant and then Peter Grant & Associates practicing in the field of Aboriginal (now Indigenous) Law.

After just over a year and a half working as ‘counsel’ with the lawyers who had been members of his former law firm, Peter established Peter Grant Law in November 2019.  He is presently working in collaboration with other lawyers whose practices focus on Indigenous Law.

Publications, Papers, Presentations

On Aboriginal Title:

  • March 2020: Online presentation to UBC Law Seminar on the Implications of Delgamuukw v. The Queen 23 years later
  • November, 2019: Presentation on Reconciliation and Aboriginal Title throughout British Columbia to Vancouver District Labour Council
  • Consultation and the Goal of Reconciliation, February 2010, Canadian Conference on Aboriginal Litigation and Recognition (Montreal).  Recognition and Reconciliation: The British Columbia Experience Paper [PDF]
  • The Delgamuukw Decision and Oral Histories, Paper presented to the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations (FSIN) Prairie Treaty Gathering, Saskatchewan, August 5 and 6, 1998
  • Recognition of Traditional Laws in State Courts and the Formulation of State Legislation, in Indigenous Law and the State, Morse & Goodman eds., Foris Publications, 1998, p. 259
  • The Gitksan-Wet’suwet’en Land Claims: Pushing the Boundaries of the Recognition of the Content of Aboriginal Jurisdiction, in Law and Anthropology, Vol 5, 1981, p. 121

On Residential Schools:

  • The Depth of the Ocean: General and Aggravated Damages for Childhood Sexual Abuse in Residential Schools (Paper presented at 3rd Annual National Summit on Institutional Liability for Sexual Assault and Abuse, Toronto, Ontario, February, 2002)

On Assistance to Aboriginal Governments:

  • Resolution of Complex Litigation in the Federal Court [PDF] (presented at the CLE course Federal Court Practice, Vancouver, March 9, 2012)
  • Governing Lands and Waters: Limits to Reserve Title and Indian Act Powers in British Columbia and Proposals for Reform (co-authored with David Schulze, (2001) 35 UBC Law review 415)

On Treaty Negotiations:

Education

  • LLB, University of British Columbia, 1975
  • BA (English and Film Production), 1971

Memberships and Positions Held

  • 1996-1998:  Chair of National Aboriginal Law Section of the Canadian Bar Association
  • 1999-2010:  CBA Aboriginal Law Representative on the Federal Bench and Bar Liaison Committee
  • 2008-Present:  Representative for Independent Counsel on the National Administration Committee under the Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement (IRSSA)
  • 2010-present:  Chair of the National Administration Committee under IRSSA

News

Updates & Current Works

ANNOUNCEMENT

Welcome to the law firm of Peter Grant Law previously known as Peter Grant & Associates.

I am pleased to announce that Peter Grant Law, which has been operating since November 15, 2019, has finalized issues so that we can have our own Website at grantnativelaw.com.

Peter is proud to work in collaboration with other like-minded lawyers to advocate for Indigenous peoples whether in the Courts, negotiations or public education on Indigenous rights.  In doing so, he intends to continue with the philosophy of his advocacy that he has practiced throughout his career to fight for justice for Indigenous peoples and to advocate test cases to advance the law of Indigenous rights and title.

Peter is proud to have Cinde O’Neil, who previously worked with Peter Grant & Associates as a paralegal, working with the firm.  Cinde is working on the Day Scholar Class proceedings (Gottfriedson v. Canada) and the Gitanyow title action (Malii v. BC and Canada) as well as providing support for the other clients of Peter Grant Law.

Peter is also proud to have Anna DiBella, CPA, CGA, back working with him.  Anna is handling the accounting side of Peter Grant Law and any accounting related questions can be directed to her.

You can now reach us at:

Peter Grant Law
Barrister & Solicitor
Box 12137
#407- 808 Nelson Street
Vancouver, BC V6Z 2H2
Phone: Vancouver Office  604-688-7202
Gibsons Office   604-886-4846
Fax:      604-688-8388 or 604-886-4852
Cell:      604-209-1662
Email:
pgrant@grantnativelaw.com
cinde2@grantnativelaw.com
adibella@grantnativelaw.com

Website:  grantnativelaw.com

We look forward to working with like minded lawyers and advocating for our clients’ rights.

Peter Grant is  now working with counsel from other law firms in a collaborative manner on significant litigation and negotiations including his former partner, Diane Soroka  from Montreal, and  lawyers from  Mandell Pinder,  Arvay Findlay and  Waddell Phillips in Toronto,  all of whom have worked extensively in the area of Indigenous law. Peter’s present focus is on four major legal initiatives, all of which will, hopefully, advance the law for the Indigenous peoples of Canada and lay further legal frameworks to assist in advancing the goal of reconciliation between Canada’s original peoples and post-contact  settler societies.

  1. Malii v. The Queen

This is the Aboriginal title action of the Gitanyow.  They are seeking establishment of their Aboriginal title within their Lax yip (territory).  Peter is  working with Mark Underhill and Catherine Boies Parker of Arvay Findlay and Diane Soroka.

  1. Gottfriedson and Feschuk v. Canada

This class proceeding was certified in 2015 in the Federal Court of Canada. After unsuccessful negotiations for three years,  the case is being readied for trial which is scheduled for September 2021. This litigation has been brought by shishalh and Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc Indian band and I am working with John Phillips and his law firm and Diane Soroka on this case. (see link to Summary of Case)

Case Overview

This certified class action is brought on behalf of anyone who attended at any Indian Residential School, for any times they attended as a “Day Scholar” (i.e. non-resident student), as well as their children, and the bands within communities that contained a Residential School.  The lawsuit claims that Canada acted unlawfully and harmed those who attended at the Residential Schools, as well as their children and band communities because the Schools were used to attempt to eliminate aboriginal languages, cultures and traditions. The action also claims that many people who attended the Schools were subjected to mental, emotional and spiritual abuse, for which compensation is claimed.

John K. Phillips of Waddell Phillips Barristers and Diane H. Soroka are class counsel along with Peter Grant.

  1. Wet’suwet’en Negotiations with BC and Canada

Peter Grant has been the negotiator for the Wet’suwet’en in ongoing negotiations for recognition of their title to their traditional territories,  (Yintah) since Premier Horgan invited the Wet’suwet’en to enter into negotiations in late 2018.   The objective is to achieve an early agreement on recognition of Wet’suwet’en title. He participated in the February 2020 discussions with Ministers Bennett and Fraser regarding moving forward with the Wet’suwet’en.

The Guardian: Canada Wet’suwet’en Indigenous Land Dispute Deal Agreement

  1. Work with Other Nations on Overlaps

The firm remains involved in representing nations whose traditional territories are claimed by neighbouring indigenous peoples.  Alternative means to address these issues are being considered.

Legal Education

Based on his experience in the field of Indigenous Law,  Peter has also focussed on the need to educate the public and up and coming lawyers on the nature of Indigenous laws and legal systems as the governments of Canada increasingly recognize the need for reconciliation between the settler governments and Indigenous governments.

For example, he has spoken publicly on the nature of the Wet’suwet’en Indigenous legal system in light of the recent media coverage of a perceived ‘conflict’ between the Indigenous government and the band council governments.

The Current: Full Transcript

Get in touch

Peter R. Grant

Peter Grant Law
Barrister & Solicitor
#407 – 808 Nelson Street
Vancouver, BC V6Z 2H2

Email: pgrant@grantnativelaw.com
Vancouver Office #: 604-688-7202
Gibsons Office #: 604-886-4846
Fax #: 604-688-8388

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