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 application for leave to appeal arises in the context of motions to strike the allegations of an originating application filed in Quebec concerning rights exercised and property situated outside the province. It is brought by the applicant the Attorney General of Newfoundland and Labrador (the “AGNL”), who argues that Quebec courts are without jurisdiction to make determinations about activities and land located beyond their territorial limits. 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 ancestral lands bordering two separate Canadian provinces. The Superior Court of Québec dismissed the motions to strike allegations. It determined that the action is of a mixed nature, and that Quebec courts have jurisdiction over the matter pursuant to articles 3134 and 3148(1) of the Civil Code of Québec. It further held that there is a real and substantial connection between the action and the Québec forum, and refused to decline jurisdiction under article 3135 of the Civil Code of Québec. The court noted that the doctrine of Crown immunity did not preclude it from assuming jurisdiction in the circumstances, given that the action was not brought against the AGNL directly. The Court of Appeal of Québec dismissed the AGNL’s appeal and adopted much of the Superior Court of Québec’s reasoning. It expressed access to justice and proportionality concerns over the severing of the proceeding.