Williams Lake Indian Band Chief Ann Louie (at the microphone) said Friday the band is elated over the decision by the Supreme Court announced Friday.

Top court sides with Williams Lake Indian Band in traditional land dispute

Supreme Court of Canada judge that Canada failed to protect land dating back to 1858

The Supreme Court of Canada in a landmark decision has ruled the Williams Lake Indian Band was wrongfully displaced from its village lands in the 1860s.

In a decision released Friday the Supreme Court said it will allow the WLIB’s appeal and restore the decision found by the Tribunal in 2014 that the Crowns had fiduciary obligations to the band and the band’s pre-Confederation specific claim was valid under the act.

Chief Ann Louie told the Tribune her community is elated with the decision coming from the country’s highest court clearly saying the band’s dispossession from its lands was wrong.

The Tribunal decisions does not return lands to First Nations, but instead financially compensates them to a maximum of $150 million.

Louie and other band members were in Vancouver early Friday morning with their legal team to await the court decision.

“There was jubilation and a lot of emotion from our legal team, showing happiness for us all,” Louie said. “It’s been a lot of work over the last few years to lead to this decision. We have been seeking resolution to this claim for 25 years.”

Moving forward, the band will prepare a summary and embark on negotiations for a final settlement.

When asked what she would say to the people of Williams Lake, Louie responded that her community is relieved the fight is finally over.

“Our chiefs and elders for over 150 years have been saying that we were unlawfully pushed off of our lands and today this decision has come from our government’s highest court clearly states that band members were displaced from their land.”

Chief William’s letter written in 1879 where he wrote that the “land on which is people lived for 500 years was taken away by a white man,” has been vindicated, Louie added.

“He and the elders who fought hard for our community can now rest.”

All Canadians should be applauding the decision, Louie said.

“The wrong has been acknowledged and I am hoping it will help move us forward toward the goal of reconciliation which we keep hearing the government and many people talking about. It will help us build a strong future together.”

In 2014, the Specific Claims Tribunal had concluded that the Band had village lands (ie: an “Indian Settlement”) in Williams Lake at the time the Colony of British Columbia was established in 1858, and that the Colony had failed to ensure that the Village Lands were protected for the Band from pre-emption by settlers.

The Tribunal concluded that Canada had become responsible for the Colony’s failure to protect the Band’s village lands and also held that Canada breached its fiduciary obligations when federal officials and reserve commissioners allowed the unlawful pre-emptions to trump the Band’s interests.

At the heart of the claim is land located at the foot of Williams Lake, and includes what is now downtown Williams Lake.

“This was the place where the Band lived, had homes and a church, and where its ancestors, including Chief William, are buried.

Read More: WLIB taking appeal decision to Supreme Court of Canada

Just Posted

Stealth struggles lead to coaching shuffle

New assistant coaches in charge of offence and defence for Vancouver

Langley curling couple bound for provincials in Creston

Craig and Karen Lepine are skipping their own teams in the upcoming BC masters curling competition.

Langley Hospice issues formal statement opposing MAiD directive

Board of directors responds to ‘groundswell of opposition’ from community and volunteers

Aldergrove family first in B.C. to receive reimbursement for life-altering arthritis drug

Effective medication used to treat rare form of juvenile arthritis costs $19,000 a month

Lower Mainland dance squad set to show off hip hop skills in L.A.

TwoFourSeven Company prepping for prestigious World of Dance event in April

VIDEO: Top 10 B.C. budget highlights

The NDP is focusing on childcare, affordable housing and speeding up the elimination of MSP premiums

Team USA beats Canada 3-2 on the shootout to take home Olympic gold

Americans win their first gold medal since 1998

Two Haida men detained for crossing U.S.-Canada border

Edenshaw and Frisby travelled from Alaska to Prince Rupert for the All Native Basketball Tournament

Alberta takes out full-page ads in B.C. over strained relationship

It’s the latest move between the two provinces over progress on Trans Mountain pipeline expansion

B.C. teacher suspended over allegedly using N-word in worksheets

Trafalgar Elementary teacher under investigation by Vancouver School Board

Toddler swept away in Ontario floods

Toddler missing as flooding forces thousands from their homes in Ontario

BC BUDGET: New money helps seniors’ care shortage

Job stability for care aides key to recruitment, union leader says

Mixed messages on B.C.’s efforts to cool hot housing market

Economist says undersupply of homes in Metro Vancouver, Victoria and Kelowna will keep prices high

Foot found near Victoria belonged to missing Washington man

Coroner says no foul play suspected in death of 79-year-old Stanley Okumoto

Most Read