Wednesday, February 17, 2016

The 2014 Tsilhqot'in FN decision by Canada's Supreme Court


Tsilhqot'in First Nation (British Columbia)


On June 26, 2014, in a unanimous 8-0 decision, the Supreme Court of Canada has granted declaration of aboriginal title to more than 1,700 square kilometres of land in British Columbia to the Tsilhqot'in First Nation, the first time the court has made such a ruling regarding aboriginal land.

That decision was huge because it set legal precedent for how aboriginal title can be interpreted, and whether provincial laws apply to lands covered by aboriginal title. It will apply wherever there are outstanding claims for land
that Aboriginal people did not sell or cede by treaty.  The original owners remain its rightful owners.

Canada's Constitution recognizes the inherent rights of Canada's First Nations; that decision, unanimous in Canada's highest court, affirms those rights.  If also affirms the Constitution as the highest law of the land.  Canada is a nation of laws; not of men.

Canada's Supreme Court just upheld the Constitutional rights ... not of a minority; but of ALL Canadians. My Constitutional Rights.  The rights of every Canadian.  That's how it works ... those rights are not subject to the tyranny of the majority, and certainly not to the vagaries or policies of the current government.  And you never defend your own rights by denying them to others.  You defend your own rights, first by using them and second, by defending those same rights for others.

Here in New Brunswick, t
he so-called "People's Suit" (filed by Lorraine Clair, Marcel White, Marc Fran├žais Bernard, Dallas McQuarrie, and Willi Nolan against the Province of NB and SWN) was launched the same day as the historic June 26, 2014 Supreme Court decision.  That decision looks like a "game changer" in New Brunswick because no Aboriginal territory here was ever ceded.

First Nations here in Atlantic Canada view treaties as sharing agreements, while the federal and provincial governments as land surrenders.  The two viewpoints are completely incompatible, and will need to be decided by the Supreme Court of Canada; as an interpretation of the laws that make up Canada's Constitution.


It could take a while.

Canada's Constitution recognizes the inherent rights of Canada's First Nations; this decision, unanimous in Canada's highest court, affirms those rights.  The Supreme Court of Canada has consistently affirmed the Constitution as the highest law of the land.  And the decision affirms Canada as a nation of laws; not of men.

That's why I still say that there won't be any new extraction of natural gas by means of hydro-fracking in New Brunswick anytime soon.