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1997 - Supreme Court Delgamuukw Case ruled that Aboriginal title to the land had never been extinguished, and oral history is accepted as valid

December 2, 1997

The Supreme Court of Canada issued a landmark decision on the claim to Aboriginal title and self government made by the Chiefs of the Gitksan and Wet'suwet'en Nations.

 

"The appellants, all Gitksan or Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs, both individually and on behalf of their “Houses”, claimed separate portions of 58,000 square kilometres in British Columbia. For the purpose of the claim, this area was divided into 133 individual territories, claimed by the 71 Houses. This represents all of the Wet’suwet’en people, and all but 12 of the Gitksan Houses. Their claim was originally for “ownership” of the territory and “jurisdiction” over it. (At this Court, this was transformed into, primarily, a claim for aboriginal title over the land in question.) British Columbia counterclaimed for a declaration that the appellants have no right or interest in and to the territory or alternatively, that the appellants’ cause of action ought to be for compensation from the Government of Canada.

-Supreme Court of Canada

The Supreme Court's Reasons for judgement in the Delgamuukw case have major implications for the lives of Aboriginal people living in British Columbia, where Aboriginal title to the land has never been extinguished.  This case set the political stage for re-defining the fundamental relationship between the Canadian state and Aboriginal peoples. - UVIC.ca

Digging Deeper

 

The Supreme Court of Canada's decision: SCC

 

 

 

Article about contemporary land claim issues in British Columbia, and the Douglas treaties:

Times Colonist

High School Resources

 

 

Junior High School Resources

 

 

Elementary School Resources

 

 

 

 

 

 

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