Update: William case headed to Supreme Court of Canada

William case to be heard by the Supreme Court of Canada

Update:

The Xeni Gwet’in (Nemiah Valley) learned this week a tentative court date has been set for Nov. 12, 2013.

Ever since he learned his rights and title case is going to be heard by the Supreme Court of Canada, Roger William has been thinking about something his late uncle and former chief Henry Solomon said.

“When you tell the truth you have nothing to worry about. The truth always wins, no matter how long it takes no matter how hard it is. Those are words we’ve all been carrying in our minds,” the former Xeni Gwet’in chief and present band councillor said. After all, the case has been in the courts since 1992.

William and others throughout the Tsilhqot’in Nation have always thought the aboriginal rights and title case would end up in the Supreme Court of Canada.

The rights to hunt, trap, trade and catch and use wild horses was not contested by the provincial or federal government through one of the case’s go-arounds.

“That means those rights were upheld and it becomes law in the court case areas, which is huge,” William said, adding the First Nations feel if B.C. or Canada want to deal with a proposed application in the area, they need to prove that those rights that became the law are not impacted and that they are protected.

“Today First Nations across Canada get a referral and are asked what their aboriginal interests in the area are, where now for the first time ever in B.C., or Canada, there’s a declaration of rights on the land in an area, laid out as hunting, trapping, trade and catching and using wild horses.”

So any species the Xeni Gwet’in hunt or trap, and their habitat, need to be protected.

“That was a big victory there and then we were just waiting for this leave to appeal petition from the Supreme Court of Canada, which came yesterday,” William said, adding it was “great news.”

Last month BC Supreme Court ruled that the federal government will help cover some of the legal costs, however, William said those details have yet to be worked out.

Tsilhqot’in National Government chair Chief Joe Alphonse said it’s time to stop avoiding the issue of rights and title.

“Deal with us in a fair, just and meaningful way. I think this is going to define the relationship between Canada and First Nations people, and I think First Nations people right across Canada are waiting to see what’s going to happen from this case,” Alphonse said.

There’s no date set for the case to be heard as of yet, all Alphonse knows is they have a date with the “highest court in the country and have so much hope.”

The main points of the case are about ownership and who owns the land.

“Not only the land, but the resources that are on that land, any and every aspect of that land, whether it’s subsurface or not. It’s the right to use those resources and how those resources fund government programs,” Alphonse said.

“We don’t want to live by handouts, we are a level of government and those resources belong to us and we want our rightful share.”

Cariboo Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett said government’s position has always been that it believes that negotiation is preferable to litigation, but that the government understands the court has decided that this is a matter of national importance.

“For some time, B.C. has been striving to build a strong relationship with the Xeni Gwet’in and the Tsilhqot’in Nation through a number of initiatives including the Tsilhqot’in Framework Agreement,” Barnett said.

“We are proud of that relationship and intend to continue working with the TNG under our government to government agreement.”

As the case is still before the courts, Barnett added to say any more at this time would not be appropriate.

Cariboo North MLA Bob Simpson said if the Supreme Court of Canada comes out and recognizes and assigns the title to First Nations and rights according to that title, then basically the court will be doing what government is supposed to do, but has failed to do.

“Remember in B.C. only about a third of First Nations are in treaty and treaty negotiations. Those two thirds, I can guarantee you, if we get a court ruling that starts to resolve the issue of title and assigned rights, you’re now going to have a whole slew of cases,” Simpson said, adding it has massive implications and always has.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Forty-seven vaccination clinics will open across Interior Health beginning March 15. (Canadian Press)
48 COVID-19 vaccine clinics to open across Interior Health

Select groups can book appointments starting Monday

Celebrate women in leadership, March 8, International Women’s Day 2021 (Unsplash)
EDITORIAL: International Women’s Day 2021 shines spotlight on achievements, ongoing inequities

COVID-19 increased gender-based violence, economic stress, the burden of care giving for women

Cynthia English (Photo submitted)
INTERNATIONL WOMEN’S DAY 2021: Cynthia English

Cynthia English, 30, has been working in the logging industry for several years

Kristy Alphonse Palmantier was crowned Williams Lake Stampede Queen in 1981. She has four children (Jody Palmantier, Davee Palmantier, Julie Doerfling and Sky Moses) as well as four grandchildren including Ace, Chance, Xidi and Ryder who was born last month. Alphonse Palmantier lives in Sugar Cane and in her spare time loves to be out on the land and hunt and fish with her partner CraigHilker. (Kristy Palmantier Facebook photo)
INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY 2021: Kristy Alphonse Palmantier

Roots run deep for Kristy Alphonse Palmantier

Greg Sabatino photo - Williams Lake Tribune
INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY 2021: Cleary Manning

Spreading positivity through music is one way Cleary Manning tries to make the community better

Elvira D’Angelo, 92, waits to receive her COVID-19 vaccination shot at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, March 7, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
‘It’s been a good week’: Tam hopeful on vaccines as pandemic anniversary nears

Tam says the addition of two new vaccines will help Canadians get immunized faster

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

(The Canadian Press)
‘Worse than Sept. 11, SARS and financial crisis combined’: Tourism industry in crisis

Travel services saw the biggest drop in active businesses with 31 per cent fewer firms operating

Pictures and notes in from friends and classmates make up a memorial in support and memory of Aubrey Berry, 4, and her sister Chloe, 6, during a vigil held at Willows Beach in Oak Bay, B.C., on December 30, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Mother of slain daughters supports recent changes to Canada’s Divorce Act

Sarah Cotton-Elliott said she believed her children took a back seat to arranging equal parenting

Victoria man Brett Andersen is asking for people’s help to secure him one of eight free tickets to the moon. (Screenshot/@brettandersen Instagram)
Victoria man wants your help securing a free ticket to the moon

Japanese billionaire offering eight people a trip to the moon

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels were found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

Donald Alan Sweet was once an all star CFL kicker who played for the Montreal Alouettes and Montreal Concordes over a 13-year career. Photo courtesy of Mission RCMP.
Ex-B.C. teacher who was CFL kicker charged with assault, sexual crimes against former students

Donald Sweet taught in Mission School District for 10 years, investigators seek further witnesses

Most Read