THUNDER BAY -- Harvey Yesno says a recent Supreme Court of Canada decision sends a strong message on how to deal with Aboriginal title and rights.
In a unanimous decision Thursday the court gave title to Tsilhqot'in First Nation for more than 17,000 square kilometres of land in British Columbia, a first for the court. That will set a precedent for other outstanding land claims across the country. It ruled in favour of the idea of traditional territory rather than specific spots on the land to claim.
"I think it clearly states some of the things that we've always advocated," Yesno, the Nishnawbe Aski Nation Grand Chief said.
Several land claims by First Nations in NAN territory have been stalled.
"I'm hoping this would give an impetus to get back to the negotiations and settle some of these things."
What's clear now, Yesno said, is that consent and consultation are needed. And that things like royalties and revenue sharing need to be negotiated with government, not industry.
By and large First Nations have good relationships with industry when it comes to resource development Yesno said.
"What's now going to happen is the Crown, Ontario and Canada needs to step up," he said.
Provincial Northern Development and Mines Minister Michael Gravelle said his ministry is looking over the decision closely.
While there are some differences, mainly that Ontario has treaties, he said a recent framework agreement with Matawa Tribal Council in the Ring of Fire shows that the government has been consulting with First Nations.
"It's in many ways a model for how government-to-government relationship can really prove to be the most positive way to move forward on a project," he said.