Supporting the declaration of aboriginal title by the courts

Editor: Today’s decision confirms the reality of Aboriginal title.

Editor:

Lake Babine Nation applauds the Supreme Court of Canada’s declaration of Aboriginal title for the Tsilhqot’in in the William case and the Tsilhqot’in’s hard fought victory.

The Supreme Court released this historic decision today, confirming that Aboriginal title is not just a theoretical possibility, but also a practical reality in British Columbia.

Lake Babine Nation is comprised of over 2400 members and is one of the largest First Nations in British Columbia. Lake Babine asserts title to a large territory in central British Columbia that is currently subject to a number of development applications, including the previously-rejected Morrison Mine, as well as a number of proposed LNG pipelines.

Today’s declaration of Aboriginal title in the William case confirms that Aboriginal title is a reality in British Columbia, and that it extends well beyond our traditional village sites.

The Government of British Columbia, Canada, and proponents who seek to develop in Lake Babine’s territory must start acknowledging Lake Babine’s Aboriginal title claim by engaging with us respectfully and proposing meaningful accommodation for Lake Babine.

At a minimum, meaningful accommodation means that any development must be sustainable and safe for our land and resources, and that it must provide significant economic benefits to Lake Babine.

Today’s declaration of Aboriginal title for the Tsilhqot’in marks the beginning of a new chapter in the Tsilhqot’in’s relationship with the Crown, one focussed on implementing Aboriginal title.

I hope that the William ruling will also motivate the Crown to recognize and resolve the Aboriginal title and rights claims of other B.C. First Nations. For decades, Lake Babine has been pursuing a respectful relationship with the Crown that is founded on recognition of our Aboriginal title, our other Aboriginal rights, and our rights under the Barricade Treaty.

Today’s decision confirms the reality of Aboriginal title.

I urge Canada and British Columbia to work with Lake Babine in avoiding further litigation and implementing Lake Babine’s Aboriginal title, Aboriginal rights and Barricade Treaty rights through negotiations. Let’s journey forward together, without further delay.

Chief Wilf Adam

Lake Babine Nation