|UBCIC, Okanagan Nation Alliance & Shuswap Nation Tribal Council Welcome first declaration of Aboriginal Title
News release. June 27, 2014
The Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs, Okanagan Nation Alliance and Shuswap Nation Tribal Council Welcome the Supreme Court of Canada’s first declaration of Indigenous Title in Canada
The Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs (UBCIC), Okanagan Nation Alliance (ONA) and Shuswap Nation Tribal Council (SNTC) participated as a coalition intervener in this case.
Our nations have been involved legal actions seeking to have our Aboriginal Title and jurisdiction to make decisions about the forests that have sustained our people for thousands of years recognized in the Jules and Wilson actions. That case was on hold pending the outcome of this case. We will now meet to decide our next steps.
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the UBCIC and ONA stated, “Canada’s top court adopted the international law principle of consent. Indigenous peoples in British Columbia have long been fighting for recognition of our rightful place in the Canadian federation. The Supreme Court of Canada has said that it is time to join the modern era of International Human Rights recognition. This decision puts an end to the legal oppression of Indigenous Peoples and enforces our fundamental human rights and freedoms.”
Chief Judy Wilson of the Neskonlith Indian Band said, “Canada and BC must acknowledge that our Peoples, our Title and our Laws exist. Our people have lived in poverty for long enough. This country, this Province, have been built on our peoples’ poverty. BC’s laws must change and we are ready and willing to work to make the necessary changes. We will benefit from our lands, according to our laws.”
Chief Byron Louis of the Okanagan Indian Band stated, “The Supreme Court of Canada has rejected a prejudiced view of Indigenous peoples as landless and lawless. Governments and Industry now have no choice but to recognize us and our rights and work with us to find a way forward. We have a case currently before the courts, awaiting the outcome of this case, the Jules and Wilson case, which seeks recognition of our laws and jurisdiction based on our Aboriginal Title and we will be actively examining our next steps.”
Kukpi7 Christian of Splatsin te Secwepemc, commented: “We have been waiting for many generations for recognition of our peoples, our territories and our laws and legal systems and we look forward to implementing this decision. This is a new era of title recognition, and protection of Indigenous Peoples’ rights to be meaningfully and fully involved, through the exercise of our laws, about decisions made on our territories.”
Chief Nelson Leon, of Adams Lake Indian Band stated: “We look forward to working with governments and industry to define this new way forward. We will be inviting the public to join us to build a better future which has a place for us, our laws, and for our grandchildren together.”
For further information contact:
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip: (604) 684-0231
Kukpi7 Christian: (778) 471-8200
UBCIC is a NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.