A legal expert says the stakes are high in a legal battle involving a BC First Nation.
The Supreme Court of Canada is expected to rule on the William Case sometime this year.
The Tsilhqot’in Nation is seeking a broad territorial declaration of Aboriginal title over its traditional land.
Seventy per cent of BC isn’t covered under treaties, which is why the First Nation is arguing inherent and historical rights in the case.
Legal expert Bill Gallagher says business groups in that region are worried what impact the ruling will have:
“They basically said that if the court goes with the territorial approach, that it will create such uncertainty that — in the business coalition’s submission — would threaten the economy.”
He says that coalition includes forestry, coastal and mining groups.
Gallagher adds the case won’t directly change the way bands covered under treaty deal with companies in their traditional territory.
But he says it should give their legal arguments more weight.
“What’s significant is that the BC natives are not inclined to take “postage stamps” as the final result. Otherwise, they would not be appealing. So if they do get the territorial application, it’s going to cause a ruckus.”
Gallagher recently wrote a book, entitled Resource Rulers, where he explains how First Nations could soon have more say over resource development projects in Canada.