The Supreme Court of Canada has handed down what many are seeing as a landmark ruling on aboriginal rights and title.
The Court found the province failed in its duty to consult with Tsilhqot’in First Nation on forestry development in its traditional territories, and the ruling recognizes their title over that land.
Doug White, former Snuneymuxw Chief and Director of VIU’s Centre for Pre-Confederation Treaties and Reconcilation, says it’s sets a new precedent.
Sechelt First Nation Chief Calvin Craigan says it’s a day to celebrate.
Craigan says the legal implications are clear; it means the First Nations, not the province, have the jurisdiction over what happens with resources in their territories. He also says it adds some legal weight to the work the Sechelt have done in recent years to make the public and local governments aware of, and respectful of, their rights and title over traditional lands.
Justice Minister Suzanne Anton issued the following statement on the ruling.
“The decision provides additional certainty around processes and tests that are applied to the relationship between the Province and Aboriginal peoples. We will take the time required to fully analyze it and work with First Nations, industry and all of our stakeholders as we do so. In the meantime, the relations we have built with First Nations and industry will provide a strong foundation going forward. We believe this is the right approach as it enables First Nations to fully participate in economic development and brings benefits more quickly to Aboriginal communities.”