The Duty to Consult

17 February 2010

The Duty to Consult: New Relationships with Aboriginal Peoples
by Dwight G. Newman
Published by Purich Publishing
Review by Shanna Mann
$30 ISBN 978-1895830-378

While this is, first and foremost, a scholarly work, the author makes an earnest attempt to present the information in a clear manner. There is no doubt that a layperson would likely benefit from a point-by-point chapter summary, but the absence of Latin terminology and self-referential citations makes it understandable—though it will never be a beach read.

The book explores the legal ramifications and implicit necessities of the so-called “duty to consult,” the duty of the crown to notify, consult, or if necessary include First Nations people in any licensing, sale, or use of land or waters that may affect the rights of Aboriginals.

If you’ve been paying attention to the news over the past decade of Aboriginal rights litigation, many of the cited court cases will be familiar to you—Taku River Tlingit First Nation v. British Columbia, Mikisew Cree First Nation v. Canada, and so on.

It explores the ramifications for First Nation’s bands and organizations as well as for the crown and interested third parties. It notes that many First Nations bands lack resources to properly examine and decide upon their rights in a “consultation situation” and further notes that, in keeping with upholding the honour of the crown, several provinces, including Saskatchewan, have made funds available to bands in order to assist them in the consultation process.

Anticipating further noteworthy changes to Aboriginal case law, the author has stated that “updates on important developments on the duty to consult” will be posted on the publisher’s website.

This book is a readable, understandable, reasonably exhaustive exploration into the rights and implications of the crown’s “New Relationship” with First Nations people.


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