Document Type


Publication Date


Source Publication

(2015) 48 University of British Columbia Law Review 821-71


In Tsilhqot’in Nation v British Columbia, the Supreme Court of Canada for the first time issued a declaration of Aboriginal title. The area to which the declaration applies is part of the traditional territory of the Tsilhqot’in Nation, amounting to the land within the claim area that they were able to prove, to the satisfaction of Justice Vickers at trial, had been in their exclusive occupation at the time of Crown assertion of sovereignty in 1846.

The area claimed in the Tsilhqot’in Nation case was not subject to competing claims by other Aboriginal peoples. However, as is well known, overlapping claims by different Aboriginal groups are common in British Columbia, raising the issue of whether any of the claimants can have title to those areas. The problem is that Aboriginal title depends on proof of exclusive occupation of land at the time of Crown sovereignty. How then, it may be asked, can any Aboriginal claimants have title to areas where claims overlap?