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New BC Court Decision Regarding Aboriginal Title and Consultation

The Hupacasath First Nation (Vancouver Island) is claiming victory over the issue of consultation between the provincial government and First Nations communities. A decision rendered yesterday from the BC Supreme Court says that the government has a responsibility to consult with native people about the transfer of ownership of private lands.

From the decision:

… that the principles articulated in Haida Nation and Taku River can apply outside the context of Crown land. The Crown’s honour does not exist only when the Crown is a land-owner. The Crown’s honour can be implicated in this kind of decision-making affecting private land.

Will this decision increase fears in the public that private lands are on the treaty table?

See here for commentary about the decision from Will Horter, Executive Director, Dogwood Initiative.

Also of interest: In their press release about the court decision, the Hupacasath expressed their relationship with traditional lands this way:

Today, is a victory, not just for the Hupacasath, but for our Forests, and all that grows and lives within them. The Forests are our Cathedrals and we hope through the consultation process that the court has ordered that we will be able to protect that which is most sacred and precious to us …”

I am interested here in the language the Hupacasath have used to convey their relationship with local forests; presumably, the use of ‘cathedral’ seems to translate the connection into terms non-native people can understand.

See also the press release from the Union of BC Indian Chiefs.

(Thanks to Don and the Protecting Knowledge Group.)

Update: The Times Colonist (Victoria) published this story today about the court decision saying that it was a partial victory for the Hupacasath.

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