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AFN National Chief congratulates Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council on Landmark Victory in Fisheries Case

by NationTalk on November 4, 20091193 Views


OTTAWA, Nov. 3 – Today, National Chief Shawn Atleo congratulated the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council on a historic victory in the B.C. Supreme Court which recognized that Nuu-chah-nulth Nations have an Aboriginal right to harvest and sell all species of fish found within their territories.”This decision is an important recognition of First Nation’s culture, traditional economies and aboriginal rights. The traditional societies, economies, and culture of Nuu-chah-nulth people were built around fishing, but more than one hundred years of regulation by Canada restricted their ability to participation in the West Coast fishery. We encourage governments to begin immediate and positive discussions with the Nuu-chah-nulth Nations on implementing this decision,” said National Chief Shawn Atleo.

The National Chief added “This decision adds to the growing body of jurisprudence across the country that positively affirms First Nation rights and economic interests and is a further call for governments to dedicate themselves to constructive dialogue aligning agreements and ensuring efficient implementation.”

While the decision was a clear victory for the Nuu-chah-nulth Nations, the court noted that the Aboriginal right to harvest and sell fish is not an unrestricted commercial right. Implementation will require negotiations with the governments of British Columbia and Canada.

The claims of the Nuu-chah-nulth Nations are based on Aboriginal rights to harvest and sell sea resources, Aboriginal title to fishing territories and fishing sites, and the unique obligations of the Crown arising through the reserve-creation process. The case was launched in June 2003, after attempts at negotiation with governments failed and the Nuu-chah-nulth plaintiff Nations filed a Writ of Summons against Canada and British Columbia seeking reconciliation.

The Assembly of First Nations is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada.

For further information: Karyn Pugliese, Acting Communications Director at (613) 292-1877 or

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