Morin v Kitigan Zibi Anishnabeg Band Council

The Superior Court of Quebec released a decision on March 12, 2015 in Morin v. Kitigan Zibi Anishnabeg Band Council [Translation], dismissing the Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg Band Council's motion for declinatory exception to have the Superior Court decline jurisdiction in favour of the Federal Court with respect to a matter relating to use of a road passing through their reserve lands.


The plaintiff in this matter, Mr. Morin, is the owner of several islands in the Gatineau River within the municipal territory of the town of Maniwaki who wants to harvest timber from his island lots. The only way for Mr. Morin to access his island properties for logging would be to use an existing road that runs through the reserve lands of the Kitigan Zibi Anishnabeg. Kitigan Zibi opposes Mr. Morin using the road for this purpose and has dug a ditch to prevent him from accessing his property. Mr. Morin is therefore seeking an injunction from the Superior Court to require the band to provide him with access to his property. He is also seeking damages.

Court's decision

The Court held that the relief sought by Mr. Morin fell within the ordinary jurisdiction of the Superior Court. While noting that s. 18(1) of the Federal Courts Act provides the Federal Court with the exclusive jurisdiction to issue an injunction against a federal board, such as a band council, the Court found this dispute did not fall within the scope of s. 18, which relates to applications for judicial review. The Court stated that it was not enough that this matter involves a band council to confer exclusive jurisdiction on the Federal Court. Rather, the band council must be exercising jurisdiction or powers under a federal law for the Superior Court's jurisdiction to be ousted. The Court held that the dispute in this case - a right of way claimed by a landlocked owner - was essentially a civil law problem. In the Court's view, the fact that the band owns the road on which the right of way was sought did not mean that resolution of this issue would implicate federal law.

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