WHAT WE DOSpecific Claims Law

Specific claims are grievances brought by aboriginal peoples in Canada against the Crown, the executive level of government.

The Crown has a fiduciary relationship with aboriginal peoples and has a political duty to use its legal authority in relation to aboriginal peoples to protect their distinctive rights and interests. In particular situations, the Crown’s role gives rise to lawful obligations. For example, the Crown must act honourably in implementing treaty rights or in using its Indian Act powers to manage the lands and assets of a band on behalf of that community. Specific claims are grievances that arise from the alleged failure of the Crown to fulfill these obligations in particular cases.

Dr. Schwartz facilitates a website devoted to specific claims. This site contains a collection of case law, tribunal decisions, and links to historic documents. It is designed as a starting point for anyone working on research about specific claims.

The website is a free public access resource. It is intended to be useful for the general public, members of Indigenous communities, students and teachers and legal practitioners. It contains thousands of documents stretching over many decades in relation to case law and policy development in the area of Indigneous claims against the Crown. Included are all the reports of the Indian Claims Commission and its successor the Specific Claims Tribunal. A search function enables users to search every document, including those in PDF format, using word search.

Bryan has worked extensively as both an academic and practitioner in Indigenous law, including in the area of specific claims. He served as counsel for the Assembly of First Nations in its partnership with Canada to develop the Specific Claims Tribunal Act, and has appeared there as an expert witness. Bryan has also appeared at the Supreme Court of Canada as counsel in a number of Indigenous law cases and continues to act in specific claims cases for various Indigenous communities.

Visit the specific claims website: