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Tsilhqot’in Canadian Aboriginal Title Landmark Decision – A Game Changer? by Bradford W. Morse, Professor and Dean of Law, University of Waikato (NZ), Professor Emeritus at University of Ottawa (Canada) and forthcoming Dean of Law at Thompson Rivers University (Canada) – AN EXCLUSIVE FOR LIVE ENCOUNTERS
The Supreme Court of Canada rendered an absolute ground-breaking decision on June 26, 2014 in the case, Tsilhqot’in Nation v. British Columbia. The judgement quickly attracted massive publicity as it is the first time in Canadian history in which the highest court has issued a specific declaration that Aboriginal title continues to exist today. The ruling has significant practical effect, which includes removing the power of the province to authorise logging without the consent of the Aboriginal title holders. The Court, sitting with 8 members, unanimously pronounced that the Tsilhqot’in Nation held Aboriginal title over 1700 square kilometres of land in a relatively remote area of south central British Columbia 200 kms west of the town of Williams Lake. This land forms a significant part of the traditional territory of the Tsilhqot’in Nation, which consists of 6 distinct First Nations recognized as ‘bands’ under the federal Indian Act with approximately 3000 members.
Bradford W. Morse, B.A., LL.B., LL.M. Dean and Professor of Law at Te Piringa – Faculty of Law at University of Waikato (Hamilton, Aotearoa New Zealand) since 2009 and Professor of Law at University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law, Common Law Section, 1976-2013 [on leave Sept 2009- Oct 2013]. He was appointed Professor Emeritus by the University of Ottawa in 2014. He has most recently been appointed as the next Dean and Professor of Law at the 3 year old Faculty of Law at Thompson Rivers University (Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada). He will start a 5 year term as Dean at the end of 2014 as its 2nd Dean of Law.
Brad has had the opportunity to serve in a variety of capacities over the past 40 years outside of academia. He was the Executive Director of the Native Legal Services Task Force of British Columbia in 1974-75 while completing his 1st law degree. This Task Force created the first Indigenous run community legal services in southern Canada. He later served as Research Director of the Aboriginal Justice Inquiry of Manitoba 1988-91; as well as Chief of Staff to Hon. Ronald A. Irwin, Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs of Canada 1993-96. Within the University of Ottawa he served as Vice Dean of Law [1983-85], Director of Graduate Studies in Law [1990-92, 2005-07] and chair of various faculty and university committees. He has published over 100 books, articles, book chapters and commission reports as well as many more magazine and newspaper articles. He has served as a legal advisor and negotiator for many First Nations and national and regional Aboriginal organizations in Canada since 1974 as well as Consultant to various royal commissions, governments and Indigenous organisations in Canada, Australia and New Zealand. He has appeared as an Expert Witness before the Waitangi Tribunal (NZ), Parliamentary and Legislative Committees (Canada) and other administrative tribunals predominantly on Indigenous rights and environmental law issues. He has spoken at many conferences, Indigenous organization assemblies, community meetings, continuing professional and judicial education programmes. He is married to Deirdre Anne and has 2 wonderful children, Lagina and Robert.
Some important weblinks for reference
Assembly of First Nations (AFN)
Friends of Nemiah Valley (FONV)
First Nations Women Advocating Responsible Mining – FNWARM
Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs
Respective Aboriginal Values and Environmental Needs (RAVEN)
Tsilhqot’in National Government