I am looking forward to being at the Supreme Court of Canada as it hears the Tsilhqot'in Nation's title case on 4,380 square kilometres of land west of Williams Lake in British Columbia.
The Globe and Mail reports, "In 2007, a B.C. Supreme Court judge offered an opinion that Aboriginal title existed inside and outside the claim area but, citing technical reasons, stopped short of declaring the title into law. A subsequent decision by the B.C. Court of Appeal took a narrower view, finding that title could not be claimed with sweeping claims based on limited use."
The Tsilhqot'in argue, "The Court of Appeal's ruling is one of expedience and convenience. ...To reduce the Aboriginal title held by First Nations, by virtue of their original possession of their ancestral lands, to rights of exclusive possession over individual salt licks and particularly effective fishing rocks makes a mockery of Aboriginal title."
The Council of Canadians, along with its Williams Lake chapter, is supporting the Tsilhqot'in Nation in the case as an intervener. We reject the idea that Aboriginal title can only be recognized for small fragmented areas of land. We support the recognition of title more broadly in recognition of Indigenous peoples' right to free, prior and informed consent.
The news article adds, "The case is being heard as the federal government weighs the fate of the proposed New Prosperity mine. The project, backed by Vancouver-based Taseko Mines, would be a $1-billion copper-gold mine about 125 kilometres southwest of Williams Lake (on Tsilhqot'in territory). The Tsilhqot'in National Government has long opposed the mine."
Photo by Nathan Einbinder
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