Williams Lake First Nation government staff are anticipated to return to work Monday, Jan. 25. (Rebecca Dyok photo)

Court orders new hearing over Williams Lake First Nation’s century-old land dispute

A three-judge panel unanimously set aside a 2018 finding by the Specific Claims Tribunal

The Federal Court of Appeal has ordered a tribunal to reconsider its ruling upholding a century-old sale of land from a British Columbia First Nation to a now-defunct railway.

A three-judge panel unanimously set aside a 2018 finding by the Specific Claims Tribunal that determined the Williams Lake First Nation did not prove the lands were wrongfully transferred.

The decision posted online Wednesday says the tribunal “failed to give adequate consideration” to the Crown’s fiduciary duty to act in the best interests of the First Nation when land was sold in 1915 to the Pacific Great Eastern Railway.

Writing for the appeal panel, Justice Mary Gleason says the tribunal correctly applied the importance of fiduciary duty in an earlier decision related to another First Nation.

The ruling calls on the tribunal to “meaningfully justify its departure” from that earlier finding in reaching its decision against the Williams Lake First Nation.

At issue is the sale in 1915 of 1.76 hectares of land to the railway for $44.35, even though the site had been provisionally reserved for the Williams Lake First Nation and despite requests from Indigenous leaders that another parcel of land be provided, rather than a cash payment.

The decision says there was confusion in 1915 on the roles of Canada and B.C. in respect to the railway’s request to purchase the land.

“Particularly in light of this confusion, it is possible that Canada might have been able to obtain a better result for the band, had it kept its duty of minimal impairment at the forefront.”

Determining whether the options of either an easement or purchase of replacement lands were realistic and alternatives Canada should have at least tried to pursue will require a detailed analysis by the tribunal of the nuanced historical record, the decision says.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Court

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Fire Chief Roger Hollander supervises the filling of the 100 Mile Outdoor Ice Rink. Hollander and the 100 Mile Fire Rescue are currently looking for new members. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile House)
100 Mile Fire Rescue seeks new recruits

Annual recruitment drive runs until the end of February.

A rainbow shining on Kelowna General Hospital on May 12, 2020 International Nurses Day. (Steve Wensley - Prime Light Media)
New COVID cases trending down in Interior Health

24 new cases reported Thursday, Feb. 25, death at Kelowna General Hospital

100 Mile Fire Rescue responded to an early morning fire at 93 Mile Thursday, Feb. 25. No one was injured. (Kelly Sinoski photo -100 Mile Free Press).
100 Mile Fire called to early morning blaze at 93 Mile

One person was evacuated from the home.

Sarah Carter and Melody Watkins say that understanding bullies behaviour and helping those victimized are the keys to reducing bullying. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
PSO students tackle bullying

Pink Shirt Day PSO is about making sure victims of bullying are not alone.

Rather than just celebrate Pink Shirt on one day the members of the Cedar Crest Society wore pink shirts for the entire week to show their support for their clients and 100 Mile Students. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
Spreading Kindness

At the Cedar Crest Society, Pink Shirt Day became Pink Shirt Week.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
B.C. reports 10 additional deaths, 395 new COVID-19 cases

The majority of new coronavirus infections were in the Fraser Health region

A new survey has found that virtual visits are British Columbian’s preferred way to see the doctor amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Unsplash)
Majority of British Columbians now prefer routine virtual doctor’s visits: study

More than 82% feel virtual health options reduce wait times, 64% think they lead to better health

Captain and Maria, a pair of big and affectionate akbash dogs, must be adopted together because they are so closely bonded. (SPCA image)
Shuswap SPCA seeks forever home for inseparable Akbash dogs

A fundraiser to help medical expenses for Captain and Maria earned over 10 times its goal

The missing camper heard a GSAR helicopter, and ran from his tree well waving his arms. File photo
Man trapped on Manning mountain did nearly everything right to survive: SAR

The winter experienced camper was overwhelmed by snow conditions

Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen, all 20, drown in the Sooke River in February 2020. (Contributed photos)
Coroner confirms ‘puddle jumping’ in 2020 drowning deaths of 3 B.C. men

Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen pulled into raging river driving through nearby flooding

Castlegar doctor Megan Taylor contracted COVID-19 in November. This photo was taken before the pandemic. Photo: Submitted
Kootenay doctor shares experience contracting COVID-19

Castlegar doctor shares her COVID experience

Ashley Paxman, 29, is in the ICU after being struck by a vehicle along Highway 97 Feb. 18, 2021. She remains in critical condition. (GoFundMe)
Okanagan woman in ICU with broken bones in face after being struck by car

She remains in serious condition following Feb. 18 incident

Vancouver International Women in Film Festival kicks off March 5.
Women in Film Festival features two B.C. filmmakers

The 16th annual festival kicks off March 5, 2021

The booklet roots present day activism in the history of racist policies, arguing the history must be acknowledged in order to change. (CCPA)
New resource dives into 150 years of racist policy in B.C.

Racist history must be acknowledged in order to change, authors say

Most Read