A University of Saskatchewan professor says a recent Supreme Court decision in British Columbia is a major victory for First Nations but should be taken in stride.
Last month, the Supreme Court ruled six Tsilhqot’in bands have Aboriginal title to about 1,700 square kilometres of remote land in B.C.
Many First Nations groups are heralding the court decision as a major victory in terms of Aboriginal land rights.
Ken Coates, who teaches at the Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy, agrees the court ruling does have a number of positive ramifications for First Nations.
“They basically say that Aboriginal people should be able to pursue traditional practices on their territories and if there are going to be economic developments, that they should be compensated for the loss and change in any economic activity or cultural activity,” he says.
However, Coates adds the ruling also confirms federal and provincial governments can infringe upon Aboriginal title when it is deemed in the public interest.
“It is really important to note that does mean they have ownership over these territories. So, the Supreme Court did not say that they own those lands and have complete control.”
He says the court ruling also confirms provincial laws can apply to Aboriginal title lands.