Supreme Court sides with B.C. First Nation in ancestral land dispute

OTTAWA — A Supreme Court of Canada decision has moved a British Columbia First Nation a big step closer to receiving financial compensation for the loss of its traditional lands in the 19th century.

In a split decision released Friday, the high court restored a tribunal ruling in favour of the Williams Lake Indian Band, which had argued the pre-Confederation colony of British Columbia failed to protect its territory from encroaching settlers.

The band also said Canada neglected to adequately remedy the wrong following B.C.’s entry into Confederation in 1871.

Instead of reclaiming the band’s ancestral village lands, Canada set aside different, nearby territory for the First Nation.

A majority of the Supreme Court justices said the federal specific-claims tribunal “reasonably found” that both pre-Confederation British Columbia and Canada had failed to live up to their obligations to the band.

“A just resolution of these types of claims is essential to the process of reconciliation,” Chief Justice Richard Wagner wrote on behalf of the majority.

Williams Lake Indian Band Chief Ann Louie said the members were “elated” with the high court’s ruling.

“For over 150 years our chiefs and elders have been saying that we were unlawfully pushed off our village lands,” Louie said in a statement. “This decision from our country’s highest court clearly says our dispossession from these lands was wrong.”

The band is one of 17 communities of the Shuswap Nation, which traditionally lived around Williams Lake, harvesting game, fish and berries.

The lands would become the south-central B.C. municipality of Williams Lake, 540 kilometres north of Vancouver, with a population of about 10,500.

Seven years ago, the band made a claim concerning just over 800 hectares, including the present city’s downtown.

In 2014, the specific-claims tribunal — which can award financial compensation — upheld the band’s arguments concerning the original lands, finding that both the colony and Canada had breached their duties.

The Federal Court of Appeal overturned the tribunal’s decision two years ago, concluding that Canada’s post-Confederation actions were sufficient.

The Supreme Court decision affirming the tribunal ruling clears the way for establishing compensation.

Just Posted

Red Deerians brave the chill to spend Family Day in the new Celebration Plaza

The 2019 Canada Winter Games hub attracted a lot of parents and kids

Stettler RCMP search for suspects

Attempted theft of an ATM

Sign cost a concern for some in Red Deer

Installation complete on south end welcome signs

Historic win for Team Nunavut at Canada Winter Games

Four years in the making boiled down to a collection of firsts… Continue reading

Canadian women beat US 2-0 to win inaugural Rivalry Series

DETROIT — The inaugural Rivalry Series was created to give Canada and… Continue reading

Don Cherry blasts Hurricanes as ‘jerks’; team responds with his words on T-shirt

TORONTO — Don Cherry’s latest rant about the Carolina Hurricanes and their… Continue reading

Country star Miranda Lambert reveals secret marriage

NASHVILLE — Country star Miranda Lambert celebrated Valentine’s Day weekend with the… Continue reading

‘Black Panther’ costume designer blazes trail to inspire

LOS ANGELES — Ruth E. Carter is a black woman blazing a… Continue reading

Chicago police: Jussie Smollett assault case has ‘shifted’

Chicago police said Saturday the investigation into the assault reported by Jussie… Continue reading

Still-active human rights case speaks to lasting homophobia in Canada: activists

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — Just over 14 years ago, the government of… Continue reading

Alberta missionaries among the Canadians heading home from riot-stricken Haiti

MONTREAL — A Canadian couple who had to leave Haiti due to… Continue reading

Man charged in daughter’s death in hospital with self-inflicted gunshot wound: police

Police say a man charged with first-degree murder in the death of… Continue reading

Most Read