The Oral Histories of Canada's Northern People, Anglo-Canadian Evidence Law, and Canada's Fiduciary Duty to First Nations: Breaking Down the Barriers of the Past


  • Clay McLeod



This article is a call for Canadian Courts to interpret, respect and develop First Nations' rights from the perspective of the aboriginal peoples themselves. McLeod focuses on the First Nations of the North and how their traditional use of oral histories is profoundly affected by the current Canadian rules of evidence. Indeed, the whole concept of the adversarial system, a system based on Western European culture, assumptions, and principles, and its effectiveness in determining the "truth" is shown to be inadequate at addressing the concept of the "truth" as defined by the First Nations. McLeod exposes an inexcusable "cross-cultural clash" occurring within Canadian courtrooms that is causing the rules of evidence to become tools of oppression preventing the oral histories of the First Nations from properly being admitted and given due weight. McLeod continues, however, to suggest ways by which some of the rules of evidence could be utilized so as to effectively allow the aboriginal people the opportunity of presenting their oral histories to the Courts and having them accepted as being valid and trustworthy.