AUGUST 21, 1996

THE CANADIAN SUPREME COURT GIVES CONDITIONED DEFERENCE TO NATIVE FISHING RIGHTS

William and Donald Gladstone, members of the Heiltsuk Band in British Columbia, were both charged with selling herring spawn contrary to the federal Fisheries Act.  In their defense, they claimed that they had a right to sell herrings under section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982.  At trial, they presented evidence showing that trade of herring spawn was a significant part of the Heiltsuk band’s way of life prior to contact.  In R v Gladstone, [1996] 2 S.C.R. 723, Chief Justice Lamer, writing for the majority found that there was an aboriginal right to sell herring spawn.  Unlike the right to fish for food, ceremonial and societal purposes were absolute.  He suggested that, in the regulation of commercial fishing, the regard should be given to regional fairness among all people when distributing fishing resources.    

Source:  R v Gladstone, [1996] 2 S.C.R. 723, Lexum: Judgments of the Supreme Court of Canada.  Retrieved 7/11/2019, https://scc-csc.lexum.com/scc-csc/scc-csc/en/item/1409/index.do
Picture: NewYork 1956 at English Wikipedia, 3/12/2012. Released into Public Domain by the author for any purpose and with no limitations. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Supreme_Court_of_Canada_2.jpg.

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