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2014-06-26 at 10:12

Landmark Supreme Court ruling grants land title to B.C. First Nation

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The Canadian Press

OTTAWA - For the first time, the Supreme Court of Canada has recognized a First Nation's title to a specific tract of land — a historic decision with major implications for contentious energy projects like the Northern Gateway pipeline.

Thursday's unanimous 8-0 decision, which overturned an appeal court's ruling, will essentially make it easier for First Nations to establish title over lands that were regularly used for hunting, fishing and other activities.

The landmark ruling is the Supreme Court's first on aboriginal title and will apply wherever there are unresolved land claims.

"The claimant group bears the onus of establishing aboriginal title," Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin wrote in the decision.

"The task is to identify how pre-sovereignty rights and interests can properly find expression in modern common law terms."

Title, however, is not absolute, the top court declared; economic development can still go ahead on land where title is established as long as one of two conditions is met.

Economic development on land where title is established would require the consent of the First Nation. Failing that, the government would have to make the case that development is pressing and substantial, and meet its fiduciary duty to the aboriginal group.

In other words, the decision places a greater burden on governments to justify economic development on aboriginal land.

The court also makes it clear that provincial law still applies to land over which aboriginal title has been declared, subject to constitutional limits.

 

The Canadian Press
© The Canadian Press, 2014

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Comments

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ou812 says:
"Economic development on land where title is established would require the consent of the First Nation."

What will be required to get consent?
6/26/2014 10:34:56 AM
yoyoma says:
First Nation people have been saying it for a long long time, a relationship. Long gone are the days companies and the Government can just come in, take the resources of the land and get rich while First Nation community have to sit and watch and wait for handouts. If companies want the resources from the lands then they need to build the relationships with the communities first and the bounty of those resources will be shared.
6/26/2014 1:44:07 PM
papercut says:
You would need premission of the owner's of the land.....just like anywhere else?

6/26/2014 3:22:32 PM
tsb says:
If you were a private land owner, what would you require before someone could build an oil pipeline on the land that you own?
6/26/2014 6:43:46 PM
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