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About the Court Case
The Xeni Gwet’in took the Provincial and Federal Governments to court to protect their lands and their Tsilhqot’in Aboriginal rights and title. In 2007, 18 years after they filed their first legal action in the matter and after 339 days in court, the Supreme Court of British Columbia rendered its judgment in Tsilhqot’in Nation v. British Columbia. The Court found, on the evidence, that the Tsilhqot’in had proven their Aboriginal title in portions of the claim area. The Supreme Court of Canada has established that Aboriginal title confers a right to the exclusive use, occupation and possession of the land for the general welfare and present-day needs of the First Nation community. It includes a proprietary right to choose how the land is used. Aboriginal title also has an economic component.
The Supreme Court of British Columbia also recognized the Tsilhqot'in Aboriginal right to hunt and trap birds and animals for the purposes of securing animals for work and transportation, food, clothing, shelter, mats, blankets and crafts, as well as for spiritual, ceremonial and cultural uses through the area claimed. This right is inclusive of a right to capture and use horses for transportation and work. The Court also found that the Tsilhqot'in people also have an Aboriginal right to trade in skins and pelts as a means of securing a moderate livelihood.
The Xeni Gwet’in and the Tsilhqot’in Nation wish to honour all those who participated in the long journey through the courts - those who spent long hours sharing the history of the Xeni Gwet’in and Tsilhqot’in people, those who supported them, the people that translated, helped and assisted in so many ways, all our community members and our friends and families.