XENI GWET'IN RIGHTS AND TITLE CASE
Tsilhqot’in/XeniGwet’in Court Case – The “Brittany Triangle (Tachelach’ed)” filed on December 18, 1998, brought forward by plaintiff Roger William (former Chief of XeniGwet’in) has been an ongoing court case against actions provoked by proposed forestry activities within the Tachelach’ed and trapline territory. The trial commenced November 18, 2001 for 339 days of testimony and finally ended April 7, 2007.
On November 20, 2007 Judge Justice Vickers ruled the Tsilhqot’in are a distinct Aboriginal group who have occupied the claim area well over 200 years. While Justice Vickers found the Nation to have rights within the area he fell short of acknowledging the Tsilhqot’in title to the area in its territory. Justice Vickers acknowledged that parts of the claimed traditional territory was proven title.
In summary, the Court found:
1. The Tsilhqot’in people have aboriginal rights, including the right to trade furs to obtain a moderate livelihood, throughout the Claim Area.
2. British Columbia's Forest Act does not apply within Aboriginal title lands.
3. British Columbia has infringed the Aboriginal rights and title of the Tsilhqot’in people, and has no justification for doing so.
4. Canada’s Parliament has unacceptably denied and avoided its constitutional responsibility to protect Aboriginal lands and Aboriginal rights, pursuant to s. 91(24) of the Constitution.
5. British Columbia has apparently been violating Aboriginal title in an unconstitutional and therefore illegal fashion ever since it joined Canada in 1871.
After this decision all parties (Tsilhqot’in, British Columbia and Canada) appealed. The Tsilhqot’in went back to court in an Appeal decision from November 15-22, 2010. On June 27, 2012 the Tsilhqot’in had received the BC Court of Appeal decision. The court of Appeal largely upheld the ruling of November 20, 2007 by the late Justice Vickers – BC’s forest licenses remain struck down; the Tsilhqot’in have ‘court’-recognized Aboriginal rights throughout the claim area and that the judges’ order is upheld in its entirety.
On September 24, 2012 a “Notice for Application for Leave of Appeal” was sent to the Supreme Court of Canada to Appeal the decision on Title for the Tsilhqot’in. British Columbia and Canada did not Appeal as well therefore it is acknowledged that Tsilhqot’in have rights. Affidavits were provided by Chief Joe Alphonse as Tribal Chairman, Regional Chief Jody Wilson Raybould (AFN), Grand Chief Stewart Phillip (UBCIC) and National Chief Shawn Atleo (AFN).
On October 30, 2013 the Land Title Express - A Tsilhqot'in Journey For Justice embarked on a fourteen day trip across Canada to be witness to the Supreme Court Appeal on November 7, 2013. The court case day was a victorious day for Tsilhqot'in and Aboriginal people - it was a celebration.