JUNE 26, 2014


Canada’s Supreme Court in Tsilhqot’in Nation v British Columbia (2014 SCC 44) unanimously issued a landmark ruling recognizing aboriginal rights in ancestral lands.  The Tsilqhot’in Nation claimed ancestral rights to land at Williams Lake, B.C. at the time when the British Crown asserted sovereignty in 1846.  The province argued that the then-tribal population of 400 was too small to control a space the size of the City of Vancouver.  The court, however, ruled that native Canadians still own their ancestral lands unless they signed them away in treaties.  The ruling added that the doctrine of terra nullius [no one owned the land prior to European assertion of sovereignty] never applied in Canada.  How this affects specific mining and logging projects was not determined, however government now needs a compelling purpose to intrude—compelling from both aboriginal and wider public perspectives.  The ruling provides for greater certainty in dealings between the corporate sector and aboriginal communities.

Source:  Sean Fine, “Supreme Court expands land-title rights in unanimous ruling,” The Globe and Mail, 6/26/2014.  RETRIEVED 7/4/2019, https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/supreme-court-expands-aboriginal-title-rights-in-unanimous-ruling/article19347252/
Photo:  NewYork 1956 at English Wikipedia, 3/12/2012.  Released into Public Domain by the author for any purpose and with no limitations.

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