OTTAWA (NEWS1130) – A historic decision by the Supreme Court of Canada has restored a ruling that granted a broad declaration of land title to BC’s Tsilhqot’in First Nation.
The unanimous 8-0 decision will essentially make it easier for First Nations to establish title over a broad tracts of land that were regularly used for hunting, fishing and other activities.
Lawyer Brad Armstrong says this could have a major impact on projects like the Northern Gateway pipeline, which may need consent from local aboriginal bands before they could go ahead.
“This case indicates that many of the claims are stronger than we had originally thought, certainly by the Court of Appeal in British Columbia,” he tells us.
“We don’t know exactly where it goes, but certainly, this case means a much broader area of British Columbia will be subject to claims of aboriginal title,” adds Armstrong.
The ruling is the Supreme Court’s first on aboriginal title and will apply wherever there are unresolved land claims.
But the top court also ruled title is not absolute and economic development can still go ahead on land where title is established as long as one of two conditions is met.