In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court of Canada has expanded land-title rights for aboriginal communities. Indirectly, it has created yet another significant hurdle for Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline, and other similar projects.
Speaking for the Court, Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin wrote that “the right to control the land conferred by Aboriginal title means that governments and others seeking to use the land must obtain the consent of the Aboriginal title holders…”.
Further, “if the Aboriginal group does not consent to the use, the government’s only recourse is to establish that the proposed incursion on the land is justified” under the Constitution.
In concluding, the Court found that the appeal of the Tsilhqot’in would be allowed and declared “that British Columbia breached its duty to consult owed to the Tsilhqot’in through its land use planning and forestry authorizations”.
For the full text of the decision, simply click here.
By James Early