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First Nations Sacred Sites in Canada's Courts by Michael Lee Ross

First Nations Sacred Sites in Canada's Courts

Part of the Law and Society Series


First Nations Sacred Sites in Canada's Courts by Michael Lee Ross

The sacred sites of indigenous peoples are under increasing threat worldwide as a result of state appropriation of control over ancestral territories, coupled with insatiable demands on lands, waters, and natural resources. Yet because they spiritually anchor indigenous peoples' relationship with the land, they are crucial to these peoples' existence, survival, and well-being. Thus, threats to sacred sites are effectively threats to indigenous peoples themselves. In recent decades, First Nations peoples of Canada, like other indigenous peoples, have faced hard choices. Sometimes, they have chosen to grieve in private over the desecration and even destruction of their sacred sites. At other times, they have mounted public protests, ranging from public information campaigns to on-the-ground resistance. Of late, they have also taken their fight to the courts. First Nations Sacred Sites in Canada's Courts is the first work to examine how the courts have responded. Informed by elements of a general theory of sacred sites and supported by a thorough analysis of nearly a dozen cases, the book demonstrates not merely that the courts have failed to treat First Nations sacred sites fairly but also why they have failed to do so. The book does not end on a wholly critical note, however, but suggests practical ways in which courts can improve their handling of the issues. Finally, it shows that Canada too has something profound at stake in the struggle of First Nations peoples for their sacred sites.


This is a provocative book that is well worth assessing by trial lawyers interested in our aboriginal issues. -- Ronald F. MacIsaac * The Barrister *

About the Author

Michael Ross practicies law with Peter Grant and Associates in Vancouver. His focus is on the rights of indigenous peoples in Canadian and international human rights law.

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Book Info

Publication date

1st January 2006


Michael Lee Ross

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University of British Columbia Press


248 pages


Constitutional & administrative law



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