Federal Court

Aboriginal Peoples

Appellant failed to distribute assets and follow orders

Appellant was appointed administrator of estate of uncle, an Indian, who died without will and whose main assets included two undivided parcels of land on reserve. Sixteen years after appellant’s appointment, estate and land remained undivided among heirs. Minister ordered appellant’s removal under s. 43 Indian Act (Can.), for failure to fulfill duties, despite numerous requests by department and complaints by heirs. Appellant maintained undivided land was issue unique to reserves and he was seeking to obtain consensus among heirs to reach agreement that would allow land to remain for family use. Appeal from Minister’s decision ordering appellant’s removal. Appeal dismissed. Minister had discretionary authority to remove administrators under s. 43 and jurisprudence established standard of review was reasonableness. Minister applied manual in determining removal was justified and, over the years, communicated concerns to appellant, advised him of complaints, gave him deadlines to complete land transfers and warned non-compliance would lead to his removal. After receiving complaint letter signed by all heirs except appellant’s mother, Minister even gave appellant one additional year to achieve consensus before ordering his removal. Minister did his best to support appellant over 16 years, but appellant failed to distribute assets and follow orders as required under Indian Estates Regulations (Can.). Appellant was fully advised of complaints, basis for removal and given time to comply. Minister’s task was to determine whether administrator was exercising duties, not give appellant opportunity to address complainants’ allegations. Appellant was afforded procedural fairness and decision was reasonable.

Longboat v. Canada (Attorney General) (Nov. 18, 2013, F.C., Glennys L. McVeigh J., File No. T-1608-11) 234 A.C.W.S. (3d) 816.

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