Federal Court


Aboriginal Peoples

STATUS
Place of birth does not change one’s ancestry

Applicant sought to set aside decision of Inuit Membership Appeal Board. Applicant applied to be enrolled as beneficiary of Labrador Inuit land claims agreement. Membership committee made preliminary decision that applicant did not meet criteria for enrolment as beneficiary because she had less than one-quarter Inuit ancestry, as required by agreement. Applicant appealed. Board determined that applicant did not meet membership criteria of agreement. Application granted. Board’s decision lacked intelligibility. It appeared that board interpreted agreement such that applicant only inherited Inuit blood of ancestor born in Labrador settlement area even if parents of ancestor were 100 per cent Inuit. However, board’s treatment of ancestors was not consistent. Lack of consistency was part of reason why decision was unintelligible. If board determined that ancestor’s blood quantum only counted toward applicant’s Inuit blood quantum if ancestor was born in Labrador settlement area then it failed to apply interpretation consistently and decision was unreasonable. It was also unreasonable for board to find that ancestor’s blood quantum only counted toward applicant’s Inuit blood quantum if ancestor was born in Labrador settlement area. Absent clear and unambiguous language to contrary, one did not lose one’s ancestry because of where one was born.

Blake v. Nunatsavut (First Minister) (Dec. 11, 2012, F.C., Russel W. Zinn J., File No. T-568-12) 225 A.C.W.S. (3d) 2.

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