January 24, 2013
(Ottawa, ON) – Earlier today the Supreme Court of Canada granted leave to the Tsilhqot’in Nation to appeal the decision of the B.C. Court of Appeal regarding their aboriginal title claim. National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo together with Regional Chief Jody Wilson-Raybould provided the following statement:
“We fully support the Tsilhqot’in and are pleased that the Supreme Court has agreed to hear their appeal. We reject repeated attempts to unjustly restrict, narrow and deny inherent Aboriginal title and rights. We compel governments to work with all First Nations on the basis of recognition, respect and implementation rather than ongoing protracted legal disputes. This is a requirement for our peoples but also is the basis of successful partnership that is needed to build a stronger, sustainable economy for all Canadians.”
In June 2012, the B.C. Court of Appeal confirmed the Aboriginal hunting, trapping and trade rights of the Tsilhqot’in people and barred wide-scale industrial logging in the region. However, the Court of Appeal set aside the trial judge’s findings of Aboriginal title, holding that Aboriginal title can be established only to specific, intensively used sites, and not the core hunting and trapping grounds that were exclusively controlled and used by the Tsilhqot’in, year after year. The B.C. Court of Appeal justified its “postage stamp” approach expressly because of its stated desire to avoid “unnecessarily interfering with Crown sovereignty and the well-being of all Canadians”.
AFN resolutions reflect First Nation frustrations with the federal government’s refusal to negotiate Aboriginal title in an acceptable or timely manner, and direct the AFN to pursue reforms to the federal Comprehensive Land Claims Policy. Furthermore, the Chiefs-in-Assembly through Resolution 74-2012, expressed support to the Tsilhqot’in Nation in pursuing their Aboriginal title claims, governance and sovereignty over their traditional lands, including AFN intervention in the Supreme Court hearing.
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