David M. Robbins*
In his role of partner at Woodward and Company, David’s core law practice is focused on finding remedies for historic and ongoing Crown interferences with Aboriginal occupation and use of lands and resources.
Having previously earned degrees in law from the University of Victoria and philosophy from the University of British Columbia, David’s practice sees him advocate successfully for First Nations at all levels of court. Throughout his many years of experience, his work has contributed to securing multiple victories for the Tsilhqot’in Nation, including the Supreme Court of Canada’s landmark judgment of June 26, 2014, declaring Aboriginal title for the first time in Canada.
Prior to becoming a lawyer, David was a judicial law clerk to the BC Supreme Court and BC Court of Appeal. Having been called to the bar in British Columbia in 2001, his current work sees him act as counsel to the Cowichan Nation in its Aboriginal title litigation in British Columbia.
As well as being the Former Co-Chair of the Aboriginal Law Subsection of British Columbia, David is the author of “Tsilhqot’in Nation v. British Columbia: A Decade After Delgamuukw” in Aboriginal Law Since Delgamukw (2009).
* Denotes a law corporation.
Selected Cases, Presentations & Publications
Cowichan Tribes v. Canada (Attorney General), 2020 BCSC 1146 (counsel for the plaintiff Cowichan Nation advancing the admissibility of historical documents and ethnographic works in proof of site-specific Aboriginal title and Aboriginal right to fish for food)
Cowichan Tribes v. Canada (Attorney General), 2020 BCSC 164 (counsel for the plaintiff Cowichan Nation successfully re-examining an expert anthropologist on prior consistent statements rebutting defendant Crown suggestion of recent fabrication)
Cowichan Tribes v. Canada (Attorney General), 2019 BCSC 1606 (counsel for the plaintiff Cowichan Nation establishing procedure for expert evidence in proof of site-specific Aboriginal title and Aboriginal right to fish for food)
Williams Lake Indian Band v. Canada, 2018 SCC 4 (counsel for the intervening Cowichan Nation successfully ensuring the Court’s fuller understanding of the protection of Aboriginal title to “Indian settlement” lands during colonial British Columbia)
Cowichan Tribes et al. v. Canada et al. , 2017 BCSC 1575 (counsel for the plaintiff Cowichan Nation in successfully defeating Canada’s application seeking notice to private fee simple holders potentially affected by forthcoming Cowichan Nation Aboriginal title trial)
Grassy Narrows First Nation v. Ontario (Natural Resources) , 2014 SCC 48 (intervention for Cowichan Tribes re federalism under the Constitution Act, 1867 relative to Aboriginal and treaty rights)
Tsilhqot’in Nation v. British Columbia, 2014 SCC 44 (counsel for appellant Tsilhqot’in Nation successfully seeking declaration of Aboriginal title to some 2,000 km2)
Lax Kw’alaams Indian Band v. Canada (Attorney General) , 2011 SCC 56, 2009 BCCA 593 (intervention for Gitxaala Nation in Aboriginal right to sell fish case)
Tsilhqot’in Nation v. British Columbia, 2007 BCSC 1700 (the Tsilhqot’in Nation Aboriginal title and Aboriginal rights trial judgment)
R. v. Morris & Olsen, 2006 SCC 59 (overturning Court of Appeal’s rejection of constitutional immunity of treaty rights from provincial legislation; infringement of treaty rights)
William v. British Columbia, 2004 BCSC 1374 (dismissal of Crown application challenging Tsihqot’in Nation oral history admissibility at trial)
British Columbia (Minister of Forests) v. Okanagan Indian Band, 2003 SCC 71 (legal test for advance costs in Aboriginal title and rights related litigation)
Xeni Gwet’in First Nations v. British Columbia, 2002 BCCA 434 (advance costs order upheld in Tsilhqot’in Nation case for infringement of Aboriginal title and rights)
William v. Riverside Forest Product Ltd. et al, 2001 BCSC 1641 (advance costs ordered in Tsilhqot’in Nation case for infringement of Aboriginal title and rights)
“Tsilhqot’in Nation Aboriginal Title: Ethnoecological and Ethnobotanical Evidence and the Roles and Obligations of the Expert Witness,” University of Victoria Symposium Plants, Peoples & Places, May 2017
“Tsilhqot’in Nation v British Columbia,” Osgoode Hall Law School Professional Development Certificate, Fundamentals of Indigenous Peoples and Canadian Law, March 2017 and 2016
“When to Litigate, When to Negotiate,” BC Continuing Legal Education, Aboriginal Law Conference, November 2014
“Arguing Indigenous Law in (Aboriginal Rights) Litigation,” Canadian Bar Association, National Aboriginal Law Conference, April 2013
“Overlapping Territorial Claims,” Canadian Bar Association, National Aboriginal Law Conference, June 2009.
“Reconciling Aboriginal Rights and Title,” Union of British Columbia Municipalities Annual Conference, September 2008
Aboriginal Peoples, British Columbia, and Canada: The Constitution Division of Land Interests and Legislative Powers, published as part of the Westbank First Nation Conference “Making or Breaking the Treaty Process: The Constitutional Status of Treaty Settlement Land”, Kelowna, BC, May 2006
Taming the Crown: Developing Your Negotiating Power, published as part of the
Kamloops Indian Band’s “Good Governance Conference”, Kamloops, BC, July 2005
“Tsilhqot’in Nation Aboriginal Title: Ethnoecological and Ethnobotanical Evidence and the Roles and Obligations of the Expert Witness” in Plants, People and Places: The Roles of Ethnobotany and Ethnoecology in Indigenous Peoples’ Lands Rights in Canada and Beyond, ed. Dr. Nancy J. Turner (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2020)
“Tsilhqot’in Nation v. British Columbia: A Decade After Delgamuukw” in Aboriginal Law Since Delgamuukw, ed. Maria Morellato, Q.C. (Canada Law Book, 2009)
Tsilhqot’in Nation v. British Columbia: An Overview, published as part of the Pacific Business Law Institute Conference “Tsilhqot’in First Nation v. British Columbia: The Immediate Impact and Next Steps”, Vancouver, BC, March 2008
David M. Robbins
Member, Law Society of B.C. (March 2001)
Lecturer: University of Victoria Faculty of Law, Cdn. Bar Assoc., Continuing Leg. Ed., University of British Columbia Faculty of Law
Author: “Tsilhqot’in Nation v. British Columbia: A Decade After Delgamuukw” in Aboriginal Law Since Delgamukw (2009)
Former Co-Chair, Aboriginal Law Subsection, Cdn. Bar Assoc. (B.C.)
Hockey coaching, walking, sailing and living a low carbon emission family life.