"In a major victory for Indigenous peoples, the Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that a band in British Columbia can claim financial compensation for the theft of its lands during gold-rush times in 1860. The court took an expansive view of Canada's obligations to Indigenous peoples under a process set up in 2008 to settle historical disputes. The court said Canada can be held legally responsible for pre-Confederation wrongs.
The ruling was cheered by advocates for Indigenous peoples. "We're on a path of reconciliation, as of today," Leah Pence, a lawyer representing the Williams Lake Indian Band, said in an interview.
That last statement prompted a burst of laughter when The Globe and Mail read it to Ms. Pence and other lawyers on the band's legal team. The band first made the claim to the government, seeking a negotiated solution, in 1993, Ms. Pence said.
At stake was a claim by the Williams Lake band that the Colony of British Columbia allowed settlers to push band members off their land, nearly causing them to starve to death, and that when British Columbia joined Confederation in 1871, the federal government did not return the land. It did, however, give a larger tract to the group on what Ottawa described in a filing at the Supreme Court as prime farmland.
But the case's importance goes beyond the band. Canada introduced legislation to create an independent tribunal to rule on historical Indigenous grievances in the 1960s. It took 50 years to set up the body, known as the Specific Claims Tribunal. And when it ruled in favour of the Williams Lake band in 2014, Ottawa appealed to the Federal Court of Appeal, which threw out the ruling. The band appealed that decision to the Supreme Court..." #awareness #humanrights #decolonize #canada150 #Canada #canadian #resistance150 #government #firstnations #Indigenous #wayoflife #williamslake #britishcolumbia #vancity #vancouver #eastvan #yvr #toronto #ontario #halifax #edmonton #calgary #winnipeg #saskatoon #law #land