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

Port Alberni RCMP honour fallen officers from New Brunswick

Moment of silence, prayers held for Fredericton officers killed last week

Trio of Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock events planned for Port Alberni

Cancer Society volunteers work behind the scenes to fundraise for tour

Man rescued from cliff on Harbour Road in Port Alberni

Fire department uses new equipment in rope rescue

Alberni Valley firefighters head to Fort St. James to assist with B.C. wildfires

‘We need to make sure first and foremost our community is protected’: Gilday

PHOTOS: B.C. city wakes up to darkness under wildfire smoke

The rest of the province also dealing with thick haze as smoky skies continue

Safeway union urgest rejection of mediator recommendations

Says mediator asks for too many concessions

Fire chases B.C. crews out of their own camp

Crews in Burns Lake had to leave after a wildfire reportedly overtook their sleeping quarters

To address peacock problem, B.C. city moves ahead on trapping plan

Surrey’s new bylaw focuses on ensuring people no longer feed the birds, ahead of relocation

Hospitals to see ‘delays’ in care after losing Saudi students, health group says

About 1,000 Saudi residents called back to kingdom after suspending diplomatic relations with Canada

Bernier diatribe against ‘extreme multiculturalism’ boosts Liberal coffers

Party spokesperson Braeden Caley says online donations doubled, social media engagement quadrupled

‘Disjointed’ system hinders British Columbia First Nations in wildfire fight

More than 550 wildfires were burning in B.C. and crews were bracing for wind and dry lightning

Castlegar bridge designed by architect of collapsed Italian bridge

Riccardo Morandi designed the Kinnaird Bridge, which is part of Highway 3.

Federal government announces over $115 million to Royal Canadian Navy

Defence Minister Harjit S. Sajjan was at Victoria’s CFB Esquimalt to announce missile system upgrades

Most Read