Canadian Supreme Court Issues Decision in Tsilhqot’in First Nation Land Claim

Decision here

Held: The appeal should be allowed and a declaration of Aboriginal title over the area requested should be granted. A declaration that British Columbia breached its duty to consult owed to the Tsilhqot’in Nation should also be granted.


In finding that Aboriginal title had been established in this case, the trial judge identified the correct legal test and applied it appropriately to the evidence. While the population was small, he found evidence that the parts of the land to which he found title were regularly used by the Tsilhqot’in, which supports the conclusion of sufficient occupation. The geographic proximity between sites for which evidence of recent occupation was tendered and those for which direct evidence of historic occupation existed also supports an inference of continuous occupation. And from the evidence that prior to the assertion of sovereignty the Tsilhqot’in repelled other people from their land and demanded permission from outsiders who wished to pass over it, he concluded that the Tsilhqot’in treated the land as exclusively theirs. The Province’s criticisms of the trial judge’s findings on the facts are primarily rooted in the erroneous thesis that only specific, intensively occupied areas can support Aboriginal title. Moreover, it was the trial judge’s task to sort out conflicting evidence and make findings of fact. The presence of conflicting evidence does not demonstrate palpable and overriding error. The Province has not established that the conclusions of the trial judge are unsupported by the evidence or otherwise in error. Nor has it established his conclusions were arbitrary or insufficiently precise. Absent demonstrated error, his findings should not be disturbed.

APTN story here.

CBC here.

Campbell v. British Columbia: Costs Awarded To Crown and Sunshine Logging

There’s no legal sunshine for the unsuccessful aboriginal petitioners (Sinixt Nation Society, Representative Body of the Sinixt Nation) who were not only deemed to have no standing back in February, but now the B.C Supreme Court has also awarded costs to both the Crown and Sunshine Logging Ltd.  Here’s the decision.  It provides an interesting analysis of costs in the context of what constitutes public interest actions.

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Louis v. British Columbia: Crown Acted Honourably – Discharged Its Duty To Consult Obligation

It looks like Chief Reginald Louis and members of the Stellat’en First Nation are out of luck.  They sought judicial review and a number of orders on the basis that the provincial Crown (B.C. Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources) failed to adequately and meaningfully consult them.  Their concern was in relation to a mine located on land over which they have asserted Aboriginal title and rights.  Here’s the decision.

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Sun Peaks Resort Added as Respondent In Forthcoming “Duty to Consult” Appeal

Back in March, we reported on the Adams Lake Band’s successful duty to consult petition.  Recently, in that same case, the Sun Peaks Resort was successful in being added as a respondent in the appeal.  Here it is.

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Nlaka’pamux Nation Tribal Council Awarded Costs For 2009 Case

Concerning Nlaka’pamux Nation Tribal Council v. British Columbia (Environmental Assessment Office), [2009] B.C.W.L.D.7980, the tribe was awarded costs.  Here’s the decision.

While the petitioner was not granted all of the relief that it sought on appeal, it did succeed on this primary issue. We are of the view that it was substantially successful on the appeal, and is entitled to its costs.

B.C. Court of Appeal Dismisses Province’s Appeal – Finds It In Breach Of Its Duties To Consult

In West Moberly First Nations v. British Columbia (Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources), the B.C. Court of Appeal (Vancouver) dismissed the appeal by the province from an order declaring it in breach of its duties to consult and accommodate West Moberly First Nations concerning decisions made by government officials at the request of First Coal, a mining company.

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Da’naxda’xw/Awaetlala First Nation v. British Columbia: Minister of Environment Failed to Fulfill Constitutional Duty To Consult

In Da’naxda’xwAwaetlala First Nation v. British Columbia, the First Nation received judicial review by the B.C. Supreme Court of a decision made by the Minister of Environment, seeking to quash the Minister’s decision on four grounds.

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Federal Court of Appeal (Winnipeg) Gives a Good Old Fashioned Slap-down to Judge Finding In Favor of Aboriginal Interests

In Brokenhead First Nation v. Canada (Attorney General), the Federal Court of Appeal, in no uncertain terms, allowed the Crown’s appeal against the respondent, Brokenhead First Nation.  The appeal concerned a decision finding that the government of Canada had breached its duty to consult the respondents when it transferred former army barracks land/treaty land situated in Winnipeg, Manitoba, to Canada Lands Company, a non-agent Crown corporation. 

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Upper Nicola Indian Band v. British Columbia (Minister of Environment) – Duty To Consult and Honour of the Crown Defined

Several Canadian First Nations (Upper Nicola, Okanagan Nation Alliance, Nlaka’pamux) recently applied for judicial review of a decision made under the Environmental Assessment Act relating to the construction of a 250 km (that’s 155.3 miles for all you Imperial system dinosaurs) high voltage transmission line through lands claimed by the various Aboriginal petitioners.  The judge ultimately rejected the First Nations’ arguments.  The decision is here

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