On Feb. 2, the Supreme Court of Canada restored a decision of the Specific Claims Tribunal and ruled that the Colony of British Columbia breached its fiduciary obligation to preserve the lands of the Williams Lake Indian Band from settlement before Confederation. The Federal Court of Appeal overturned the Tribunal’s decision two years ago, concluding that Canada’s post-Confederation actions were sufficient. In a split decision, the Court found that the federal Crown is responsible for the pre-Confederation breach as well as its own failure to meet its obligations it owed to the band after British Columbia joined Confederation in 1871.
This decision is the Supreme Court’s first interpretation of the Specific Claims Tribunal Act, and was quickly heralded by Indigenous groups across Canada. The Specific Claims Tribunal can now consider what would be adequate compensation for the breaches.
The full text of the decision can be found here.