Minister’s statement on 25th anniversary of Delgamuukw/Gisday’wa judgment
Murray Rankin, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, has issued the following statement on the 25th anniversary of the historic Delgamuukw/Gisday’wa decision:
“It has been 25 years since the Supreme Court of Canada delivered its judgment in the Delgamuukw/Gisday’wa vs. British Columbia case. Delivered on Dec. 11, 1997, the landmark judgment affirmed Aboriginal rights, including Aboriginal title, and recognized oral testimony from Indigenous Peoples as lawful evidence. The court’s ruling was a foundational shift in Canada’s jurisprudence.
“Today, we remember Chief Delgamuukw, also known as Earl Muldon, a Gitxsan Hereditary Chief who passed away earlier this year, and Dinize’ Gisday’wa, also known as Alfred Joseph, a Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chief who passed away in 2014. They were the representative plaintiffs in this case, which has become a critically important precedent for how Aboriginal and treaty rights are understood and applied in Canadian courts.
“A great deal has changed since 1997. Our approach to reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples has evolved considerably. Our commitment to enduring relationships based on respect and recognition of rights is why we developed the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act and the subsequent action plan in collaboration and co-operation with Indigenous partners. The act contains measures for the Province to work with Indigenous Peoples on decisions that affect them, with self-determination as a key goal.
“We are moving forward in ways that respect Aboriginal title and rights, and working in partnership with First Nations, rather than in an adversarial way. Negotiation and collaboration are the best ways to work through difficult issues together.
“As we continue our journey toward true and lasting reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples, we are reflecting on our respect and gratitude for the plaintiffs and the Gitxsan and Wet’suwet’en people who worked so hard and sacrificed so much to reach this historic judgment. It is because of them and the tremendous amount of work done – and work that is still being carried out today to implement and give life to the decision – that has changed the way Indigenous rights are understood across Canada.”