2014 SCC 44
This case began in 1983, when the province of British Columbia granted a commercial logging licence on land claimed by the semi-nomadic Tsilhqot’in Nation as their traditional territory. The Tsilhqot’in Nation sought a declaration prohibiting commercial logging operations on the territory as well as a claim for Aboriginal title to the land. The case turned on whether the Tsilhqot’in could establish the required occupation of the territory to prove their title claim. The trial judge found that occupation, in the sense of being sufficient, continuous and exclusive. The BC Court of Appeal applied a narrower, site-specific test requiring intensive use of a definite tract of land to establish occupation and found title only for small areas. The Supreme Court unanimously allowed the Tsilhqot’in Nation’s appeal, recognizing Aboriginal title for the full area of claimed land based on the test applied by the trial judge. The Supreme Court also granted a declaration that the Crown had breached its duty to consult towards the Tsilhqot’in Nation.