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Indigenious Bar Association Supports the Williams Lake Band in Application for Leave to Appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada
by pmnationtalk onMarch 14, 20161189 Views
INDIGENIOUS BAR ASSOCIATION SUPPORTS THE WILLIAMS LAKE BAND IN
APPLICATION FOR LEAVE TO APPEAL TO THE SUPREME COURT OF CANADA
Ottawa, Ontario – The Indigenous Bar Association (“IBA”) supports the Williams Lake Band in its application for leave to appeal a decision of the Federal Court of Appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada.
On February 29, 2016 the Federal Court of Appeal (“FCA”) released its decision Canada v. Williams Lake Indian Band, 2016 FCA 63. The decision involved an application for judicial review made by Canada of a decision of the Specific Claims Tribunal (“Tribunal”) in the Williams Lake Village Site Claim. The FCA set aside the decision of the Tribunal and substituted its own decision dismissing the Williams Lake Band’s claim.
The Tribunal found that the Colony of British Colombia failed to ensure that the Williams Lake Band’s village lands were protected from pre-emption by settlers and in doing so breached the pre-emptive legislation of the time as well as the Colony’s fiduciary obligations. Furthermore, the Tribunal found that Canada also had a responsibility to protect the village lands from pre-emption and that in failing to take steps to acquire the village lands from the settlers, breached its fiduciary obligations to the Williams Lake Band.
“The decision of the Federal Court of Appeal with respect to the Williams Lake Band Village Site claim is very troubling” states Koren Lightning-Earle, President of the Indigenous Bar Association. “The FCA’s decision calls into question the role and the expertise of the Tribunal in resolving specific land claims and the degree of deference afforded to the Tribunal by the Specific Claims Tribunal Act,” says Lightning-Earle.
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The unprecedented decision of the FCA raises serious concerns with respect to the Tribunal’s ability to provide final and binding resolutions to specific land claims and casts a further shadow on the path of reconciliation between the Crown and Indigenous Peoples. Such a decision is clearly one of national importance and should be reviewed by the Supreme Court of Canada.