We Must Pay to Reconcile Aboriginal and Private Property

Document Type

News Article

Publication Date


Source Publication

Lawyers Weekly


In the most important aboriginal title case since Delgamuukw, Justice David Vickers recently provided timely criticism of what he termed B.C.’s and Canada’s “impoverished view” of aboriginal title. His strong words highlight the problems, and possible solutions, to the difficult issue of aboriginal land rights.The four-year trial involved a claim to aboriginal title and harvesting rights in the interior of B.C. Justice Vickers found in Tsilhqot’in Nation v. British Columbia, [2007] B.C.J. No. 2465 that aboriginal harvesting rights exist over the entire claim area. Applying the Delgamuukw test of exclusive occupation of land when the Crown asserted sovereignty, he also found that aboriginal title had been proven to about 45 per cent of the area. He nonetheless declined to issue a declaration of title because the pleadings requested a declaration to the entire claim area, and he concluded the defendants would be prejudiced by a declaration to just portions. But to promote honourable negotiations, he expressed his opinion on issues of title that “did not need to be decided”.