Supreme Court ruling could affect Northern land claims
A Supreme Court of Canada ruling awarding the Tsilhqot'in' people in British Columbia aboriginal title to land in their traditional territory may have an impact on settled and unsettled aboriginal land claims in the territories.
Metis lawyer Garth Wallbridge says the case will likely have no effect on older settled land claim agreements, but the ruling could open up changes to recent agreements, like that of the Tlicho in N.W.T., whose claim was settled in 2003.
"On the more modern claims, there is language that will allow a greater bundle of rights," he said.
Tlicho Grand Chief Eddie Erasmus says he's still going through the case to figure out what if any effect it will have on the Tlicho land claim.
For First Nations with unsettled land claims, such as the White River and Ross River First Nations in Yukon, or the Dehcho First Nations in N.W.T., it could mean stronger arguments for more land.
Dehcho Grand Chief Herb Norwegian says it will take time.
"It's going to have a domino effect at this stage," he said. "There all these hoops you have to go through. It's a continuous journey — sometimes it's a long journey."
Northern Lawyer Larry Innes says the ruling could also have a serious economic impact on big resource projects.
"Alberta cannot continue to undermine existing aboriginal rights in the way they have been doing by issuing licences under the justification that it's done under someone's economic interest," he said.