meanwhile in the supreme court of canada

01Jul14

For the first time, the court recognized the existence of aboriginal title on a particular site, covering a vast swath of the British Columbia interior. The court also spelled out in detail what aboriginal title means: control of ancestral lands and the right to use them for modern economic purposes, without destroying those lands for future generations.

[…]

Government still has a right to intrude but only if it can reconcile aboriginal interests with wider public purposes – which can include mining and logging projects and, though the court didn’t say so specifically, the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline from Alberta to the B.C. coastal community of Kitimat.

[…]

The case involved the Tsilqhot’in Nation (pronounced Sil-KO-tin), a semi-nomadic people whose elders had testified about customs and practices in a remote valley west of Williams Lake, B.C., for the 400 people who lived there – in an area more than half the size of Greater Vancouver – when the British Crown asserted its sovereignty in 1846. The province had argued the population was too small to be in control of such a wide space. And the B.C. Court of Appeal had said title was a matter of small, specific sites such as rocks from which aboriginals had fished.

Sean Fine for Globe and Mail.



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