Thursday, June 26, 2014

Canada’s high court sides with First Nations in land rights case

Case involving indigenous tribe could have far-reaching effects on logging and fracking

Al Jazeera June 26, 2014 
Canada's top court has sided with a British Columbia indigenous tribe in a case that could have wide-reaching implications for land disputes over traditional aboriginal territories.

The Supreme Court of Canada ruled Thursday in favor of the Tsilhqot’in Nation, a tribe of 3,000 in the remote interior of the Canadian province, in a battle over a swath of land long sought for commercial logging.

The court decision hinged on the meaning of the legal term “aboriginal title,” which refers to the land rights held by aboriginal peoples as a result of long-standing use and occupancy.

Until now, the top court hadn’t made it clear how those rights could be measured....<snip>

....Government, industry and aboriginal groups had been anxiously awaiting the ruling, which could ultimately have an effect on whether development projects can go forward in areas where aboriginals have not signed away land rights.

These could include the Northern Gateway pipeline, a planned project that would ship oil from the Alberta tar sands across British Columbia to the Pacific Coast.

It could also shape the outcome of a fight over shale gas extraction on traditional Mi’kmaq territories near the Elsipogtog First Nation in the province of New Brunswick, said Gordon Christie, director of the University of B.C.'s indigenous legal studies program.....

read entire article here

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