The Gitxsan people of northern B.C. are going back to the Supreme Court of Canada for a re-trial of the Delgamuukw case. The original ruling in 1997, by the Court of Appeal, re-affirmed native title to traditional lands, but it also spelled out limitations to that right.
The Gitxsan are filing legal documents next week for the re-trial. They say it's their chance to prove their title to the land has no legal limits.
"What we're going to do is unconfuse everything." says Gordon Sebastian, a Gitxsan legal advisor. "We're going to go back to the Supreme Court of Canada and prove the judges have no authority to state that our rights can be infringed."
The Gitxsan are expected to enter into evidence oral history that never made it to the first trial. They say it will prove their claim to the nine watersheds that make up the Gitxsan territory.
Some of that land is very valuable to the forest industry, but Sebastian says businesses shouldn't worry about the trial's outcome. "We have a lot of organization. We have a social structure. We have our laws," he says. "If they want those trees, they've got to talk to us."
The trial is expected to last 10 months and will cost the Gitxsan $4 million.