Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Band Definition:

A group of Indians who share culture and territory and are recognized as a separate government entity for the purposes of limited self-government.

Related Terms: Indian, Indian Tribe

The Canadian Indian Act, at 2(1) defines a band as follows:

Band means a body of Indians for whose use and benefit in common, lands, the legal title to which is vested in Her Majesty, have been set apart before, on or after September 4, 1951; for whose use and benefit in common, moneys are held by Her Majesty; or declared by the Governor in Council to be a band for the purposes of this Act.”

In R v Peter Ballantyne, Justice Noble wrote this in regards to that statutory definition:

“This definition and a very cursory glance at the Indian Act makes it clear that an Indian band is indeed a statutory entity consisting of specifically defined "persons" with wide powers of ownership and regulation over its members.... [T]he Peter Ballantyne Band is clearly an entity that can own property including motor vehicles.”

In Montana Band, ¶454, Justice Hansen interpreted the otherwise undefined word band as used in the Indian Act as follows:

“I interpret the Indian Act definition of band to mean an aggregate of individuals or a group regarded as a single entity who meet the reserve interest part of the definition or who share alike in the distribution of any annuities or interest money for which the Government is responsible including treaty annuities.”

In William, Justice Taylor wrote:

“[T]he Indian band is a juridical person, such status does not necessarily bring it within the Company Act. Its status in terms of how it may be served is more analogous to that of a trade union which, while also having independent juridical status, does not fit within the Company Act nor does to function like a company. Neither a Band nor a trade union find their genesis through an act of incorporation yet each performs a representative function on behalf of its members and each is a juridical person."

In Nechako, at ¶110, Justice Garson wrote:

“In my view a band is a representative body, and also a governing body, but a band does not stand in the place of the individual Indian children as argued by the Bands. A band is not a human being....

"The Band is ... is acting in a governing or representative capacity. In this capacity it is taking on rights and obligations separate and apart from its individual members".


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