Tshilqot'in Nation Appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada - William Case
Tshilqot’in Nation Appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada – William Case and Indigenous Land Title Express: Tsilhqot’in Journey for Justice
On November 7, 2013, the Supreme Court of Canada is scheduled to hear the William case, the historic appeal in the Tsilhqot’in Nation’s Aboriginal title case. This litigation started over two decades ago, following a blockade by the Tsilhqot’in Nation and subsequent legal action to save their traditional lands from industrial logging.
In a landmark decision on November 2007, Justice David Vickers of the British Columbia Supreme Court ruled that the Tsilhqot’in (sometimes called “Chilcotin”) people have proven Aboriginal title to approximately 200,000 square hectares (about half of the claim area) in and around the remote Nemiah Valley, south and west of Williams Lake, British Columbia. In June 2012, the BC Court of Appeal overturned the BC Supreme Court’s ruling on Aboriginal title. First Nations across Canada denounced the judgment saying it did not respect Aboriginal title, and that it was a discriminatory ruling that denigrates and disregards Aboriginal ways of life, in particular their distinctive systems of law and land use.
This case raises issues in regard to Aboriginal title and land rights that are of serious and ongoing concern to First Nations and all of Canada, including the proper approach for full review of First Nation lands at the time the Crown asserted sovereignty. The outcome of this appeal can be expected to profoundly shape the future of Canada’s Aboriginal peoples.
Further to Resolution 74/2012 passed by consensus during the AFN 2012 Special Chiefs Assembly in Gatineau, Quebec, the AFN will be intervening in the case to support the Tsilhqot’in Nation and stand strong for Aboriginal rights and title. The case deals with highly significant issues of national importance, including advocacy to reject the doctrine of discovery and the myth of terra nullius.