Claire Truesdale


  • P 250-405-3467
  • C 250-217-6979
  • 816 - 1175 Douglas Street Victoria, BC V8W 2E1

Claire practices Aboriginal, environmental and constitutional law in JFK’s Victoria office with a particular focus on litigation, modern treaty negotiation and Indian registration (Indian status). She is passionate about pushing the law for greater recognition of Aboriginal rights and self-government while offering her clients the practical advice they need to face immediate legal challenges.


Claire advises Indigenous governments on a variety of issues with a particular focus on Indigenous membership or citizenship, water and fisheries. She also advises First Nations on these issues in modern treaty negotiations. Claire was initially drawn to working for Indigenous peoples through studying natural resource management and the conflict between Indigenous and non-Indigenous fishers on the Fraser River. She brings this interest in ecology and natural resource management to her legal practice.

Claire also advises First Nation governments and individuals on issues of property rights and band membership under the Indian Act. She assists individual Indigenous clients with seeking recognition as registered Indians (status), including researching entitlement to registration, collecting genealogical documents and advocating on behalf of her clients to the Indian Registrar.

Claire assists her clients in seeking justice through the courts in judicial review, civil claim and appeal proceedings on matters of Aboriginal and treaty rights, consultation and accommodation, Charter rights and disputes under the Indian Act. She has appeared at the British Columbia Supreme Court, British Columbia Court of Appeal, Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench, Alberta Court of Appeal and Supreme Court of Canada.

Prior to joining JFK, Claire was a judicial law clerk at the Ontario Court of Appeal where she worked on a wide range of criminal and civil law issues for Justices Watt, MacFarland, Jurianz and Strathy (now Chief Justice of Ontario). Claire had the honour of assisting Justice Harry LaForme of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation, the first Indigenous person appointed to an appellate court in Canada, with a paper on the development of Aboriginal rights under section 35 of the Constitution.

Outside of her work Claire enjoys the beautiful outdoors of BC by running, hiking, camping and skiing, often with her faithful companion, Holly the dog. Claire is a former university athlete and now volunteers her time as the Chair of the University of Victoria Vikes Women’s Rowing Alumni Chapter to support the next generations of student athletes.

 Practice Focus:

  • Appellate litigation
  • Modern treaty negotiation and litigation
  • Indian registration, band membership and Indigenous citizenship
  • Aboriginal and treaty fishing rights
  • Water rights and governance


  • Called to the Alberta Bar, 2018
  • Called to the British Columbia Bar, 2013
  • Called to the Ontario Bar, 2013
  • University of Victoria, J.D., 2012
  • Simon Fraser University, B.A., 2008

Selected Publications and Presentations

  • Claire Truesdale, “Helping Indigenous Clients Apply for Registration under the Indian Act” (delivered at the Legal Services Society Provincial Advocates Conference, 9 October 2019)
  • Claire Truesdale and Karey Brooks, A Guide to Aboriginal Harvesting Rights (Vancouver: Legal Services Society, 2017)
  • Claire Truesdale, “Gender Discrimination and Indian Status” (delivered to the Aboriginal Law – Vancouver Island Section of the Canadian Bar Association, 25 November 2016)
  • Claire Truesdale, “Excluded by the Accidents of History – Implications of the Daniels Decision for Non-Status Indian People and Communities” (delivered at the Pacific Business and Law Institute Conference on The Daniels Case at the Supreme Court of Canada: Recognition of Métis and Non-Status Aboriginal Peoples, 23 June 2016)
  • Justice Harry S. LaForme with the assistance of Claire Truesdale, “Section 25 of the Charter; Section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982: Aboriginal and Treaty Rights – 30 Years of Recognition and Affirmation” in Errol Mendes & Stéphane Beaulac, eds., Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (Markham: LexisNexis Canada Inc., 2013)


  • Assists the Te’mexw Treaty Association and its member First Nations in their ongoing modern treaty negotiations in the British Columbia Treaty Process

  • Counsel for the Te’mexw Treaty Association at the British Columbia Court of Appeal in Ahousaht Indian Band and Nation v. Canada (Attorney General)

  • Co-counsel for Aseniwuche Winewak Nation at the Supreme Court of Canada in Daniels v. Canada (Indian Affairs and Northern Development)

  • Co-counsel for the Te’mexw Treaty Association at the Supreme Court of Canada in Ktunaxa v British Columbia (Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations)

  • Communications Officer of the National Aboriginal Law Section of the Canadian Bar Association and former Chair of the Aboriginal Law – Vancouver Island Subsection (2016-2018)