For over 40 years, Pape Salter Teillet has worked with our clients to advance their Indigenous and treaty rights through litigation before all levels of court and through the negotiation and implementation of agreements, including modern day treaties, self-government agreements and economic partnerships.
Richard B. Salter (1939 – 2021)
It is with incredible sadness that we share the news that our friend, mentor and founding partner, Rick Salter, has passed away. Rick’s impact on the field of Aboriginal law in Canada—and more importantly on the many Indigenous governments and communities he worked with throughout his life—cannot be overstated.
Rick, along with his lifelong best friend Art Pape (1942 – 2012), founded what was then called Pape & Salter in Vancouver in 1980. Rick’s work in the law was driven by a passionate commitment to fighting against injustice and to helping Indigenous nations across Canada advance their self-government and self-determination in the face of generations of colonization and repression by the Canadian state. Rick retired from the practice of law in 2015, but continued with his life’s work with us and with the Indigenous communities he worked with, in a consulting and guiding role up until his final months.
Among Rick’s many achievements, as legal counsel to the Yukon First Nations, he served as a negotiator for the Yukon Umbrella Land Claims Agreement, the Little Salmon/Carmacks Final and Self- Government Agreements, and the First Nation of Nacho Nyak Dun Final Agreement. Rick went on to lead the legal team for the negotiation of the Tlicho Land Claims and Self-Government Agreement. Later, Rick supported the Moose Cree First Nation government through a remarkable period of modernizing its governance, transforming its relationship to industry through ground-breaking partnerships, and asserting its jurisdiction through renewed relationships with other orders of government. Rick’s fundamental belief in and commitment to a community-based negotiation approach ensured the full and informed participation of all members of Indigenous nations in negotiating their land claims and self-government agreements.
Before studying law, Rick worked with Stan Daniels at the Métis Association of Alberta and Harold Cardinal at the Indian Association of Alberta and he served as a core staff organizer, along with George Manuel, assisting those organizations in setting up community development programs. Rick later worked with George Manuel at the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs. He taught sociology at community colleges, including Mount Currie reserve in B.C., and handled recruitment and operations at the Company of Young Canadians. Rick was always pleased that so many of the CYC volunteers are still, to this day, Indigenous and community leaders. It was the cumulative experience of his community and political work that eventually led him to the decision to pursue law school in order to further the legal objectives of First Nations and Métis communities across Canada.
Rick’s passing is a tremendous loss to our firm, and to the countless people—Indigenous and non-Indigenous alike—who knew him, worked with him, and benefited from his wisdom, his generosity, his kindness, his courage, and his sense of humour. Rick was truly one of the greats. Both the Indigenous and legal communities in Canada have lost one of their lions. He will be deeply missed.