Specific Claims: Research, Report Preparation & Negotiation
Members of the LVB Strategic Negotiations & Research Group team have researched, prepared, submitted and negotiated Specific Claims since the 1980s We are experts in this area — we have prepared more than 80 Specific Claims for First Nations throughout BC and Canada.
Specific Claims are most often based upon grievances pertaining to the mismanagement of reserve lands and/or Indian Band monies by federal government representatives (usually Indian Agents). Specific Claims often involve alienation of reserve lands (the case of the shrinking reserve) through a surrender or a contiguous sub-division development, as well as improperly drafted leases, permits and legal takings.
While the claim is in the process of being prepared, we locate Colonial Correspondence, pre-emption records and Crown Grants, attached sketch maps, the Minutes of Decision for the allotment of the reserves, the schedules, the field books and all relevant survey plans as well as key archival documents and government and industry records. Critical to this process is a survey using the original Indian Reserve survey plan. A surveyor is hired to determine the size (acreage) of the alienated piece of reserve. The report is completed, approved by Chief and Council and handed to the lawyer for a legal opinion. It is then submitted to the Specific Claims Branch, a division of AANDC, for review by their staff and consideration by a Justice Canada lawyer. They must respond within a three year period as to whether they accept the claim for negotiation, or reject it.
If the claim is accepted for negotiation the First Nation then puts together a negotiating team, including their lawyer, and sets out along the road to negotiations. An appraisal of the land is ordered, more documents collected (for the appraisal and to substantiate claims made during negotiations). Another survey is ordered in order to calculate how many acres are to be compensated for. The team then calculates how many years back into the past to go. The appraiser uses the information to calculate a dollar amount owed per year with compounded, accumulated interest. A settlement is agreed upon.
If the claim is rejected the Band can appeal the rejection to the Specific Claims Tribunal. The process under the Tribunal is similar to filing a claim through the courts — but different. And a First Nation can apply for funding to cover a portion of the costs. Those costs not covered can be covered in the settlement agreed upon.
If an elder has a grievance associated with a piece of reserve land, you likely have a Specific Claim to pursue. Let us help to prepare it for submission to the Specific Claims Branch of Indian Affairs.