R v Sparrow

on August 28, 2019

The court defines the scope of constitutional rights protections

Sparrow was the first case where the Supreme Court of Canada had to address the issue of protected rights under section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982. The court confirmed that Aboriginal rights, including fishing, could not simply be eliminated by provincial regulations. Rather, Aboriginal rights can only be extinguished if legislation explicitly eliminated a right prior to 1982. Despite federal legislation being applied to the Musqueam, such legislation did not mean that existing Aboriginal rights being exercised from time immemorial had been extinguished. The court also affirmed the Crown’s fiduciary responsibility towards First Nations peoples, noting that the relationship is one based on trust. Sparrow makes it clear that Crown actions must respect existing Indigenous and treaty rights (section 35 of the Constitution).

Brent NolanR v Sparrow