ROSS, Michael Lee




Author Tags: First Nations, Haida Gwaii, Law

"Thousands of First Nations sacred sites are located on public and private lands now under the control of others," writes Michael Lee Ross in First Nations Sacred Sites in Canada's Courts (UBC Press, 2005). With a law degree from UBC, Ross has analyzed how and why First Nations' sacred sites have not been fairly recognized in Canada and he identifies the two main litigation strategies for gaining that recognition. The first he calls the Meares Strategy, an interlocutory strategy in which a First Nation asks the court for interlocutory relief (usually an injunction halting resource or other development). The second he calls the Haida Strategy, a strategy that entails judicial review in order to challenge intrusions on fiduciary and constitutional grounds. His book also examines nearly a dozen specific cases in which First Nations have attempted to protect sacred sites in Canadian courts. "Although specific bias against First Nations' spiritual and religious interests in their sacred sites has not been proved," he writes, "general bias has."

According to the research of Robert White-Harvey, compiled around 1990, Canada's Aboriginal peoples comprised 3.5 percent of the national population but the provinces' reserves took up less than 0.5 percent of the land. By comparison, Australia's aborigines comprised 1.2 percent of the population and held title to 10.3 percent of the land; American Indians comprised 0.8 percent of the total U.S. population and held 2.8 percent of the land in the lower forty-eight states, or 4 percent if Alaska Native claims were included. Around this time there were 2,242 reserves in Canada belong to nearly 600 Indian bands. More than half of these reserves, at least 1,600 of them, were in British Columbia. As of 2001 there were 2,666 reserves belonging to 612 bands.

Michael Lee Ross was completing his Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Toronto when his book was published.

[BCBW 2005] "Law" "First Nations" "Indianology" "QCI"