Canada | Law

IPS: Court decision affects traditional hunting and fishing rights

"As Canada's aboriginal community celebrates last month's milestone legal ruling regarding clear-cutting in Ontario and the forestry sector mulls its future strategy, discussions are taking place about how to carry out an impact assessment evaluating damage incurred by decades of industry encroachment on traditional lands and forests.

The Ontario Superior Court of Justice in mid-August ruled that the province, which has offered companies logging and mining rights in the past, cannot infringe on the traditional hunting and fishing privileges of the Grassy Narrows First Nation promised under an 1873 federal treaty.

The federal government forged Treaty 3 with the Saulteaux Tribe of the Ojibway (Anishinaabe) Indians, the predecessors of the Grassy Narrows community. Madam Justice Mary-Anne Sanderson weighed in on a power struggle between Grassy Narrows and the provincial government regarding control of territory based in the northwestern Ontario and eastern Manitoba provinces.

This long-awaited ruling is the first to analyse in detail why the federal government has jurisdiction over lands reserved for First Nations people, noted Robert Janes, the Victoria, B.C.-based lawyer for Grassy Narrows. Despite what governments have always argued, Sanderson found that Treaty 3 was based upon shared land with the government, not an aboriginal surrender of all rights, he said."

Get the Story:
Native Lands Ruling Opens Up New Questions (IPS 9/6)

Related Stories:
Law Article: Court in Ontario addresses treaty rights provision (8/30)

Join the Conversation