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

VIDEO: Granfondo gets underway in Langley

Organizers issue hot weather warning to participants in cycling event

54-40 thrills Aldergrove Fair crowd: VIDEO

54-40 were joined on stage by the band members’ dancing children, the “Aldergrove Rockettes”

Langley Olympians dive into Sizzlin’ Summer Open Meet

Outdoor long course attracted 350 swimmers from 28 swim clubs from Canada and the United States.

VIDEO: Critter Care opens its doors

Thousands attend open house at Langley wildlife rehabilitation centre

ZONE 3: Luck played no part in getting Riley Ward to the BC Games

Langley baller flouts misfortune on the floor; he’d rather get by on hard work

All-Indigenous teams break new ground, making BC Games history

This is the first time there have been dedicated Indigenous teams at the BC Summer Games

Trio overcomes adversity at the BC Games

Zone 4 girl’s 3x3 basketball team fought through injuries and conflicting schedules

Recovery high schools could help teens before addiction takes hold: B.C. parents

Schools could provide mental health supports and let parents discuss their children’s drug use openly

Haida Gwaii village faces housing crisis, targets short-term rentals

Housing is tight and the village is pretty close to zero vacancy

Evacuation numbers remain at nearly 1,000 as B.C. wildfires rage on

200 firefighters and 18 helicopters were working to increase the containment of the fires

B.C. VIEWS: Unions regain control of public construction

B.C.’s 40-year battle swings back to international big labour

B.C. mining company, involved in 2014 spill, ordered to pay lost wages

Mount Polley Mining Company must pay wages to 26 employees who were laid off without proper notice

Two significant wildfires burning in southeastern B.C.

More than 20 fires were burning in the Southeast Fire Centre as of Saturday afternoon

Volunteers provide the glue that keeps BC Games moving

The 2018 Cowichan Summer Games had more than 2,300 volunteers on hand across Vancouver Island

Most Read