AFN Leadership Calls BC Court of Appeal Decision the "Right Decision Because it Upholds and Affirms First Nations Rights"

OTTAWA, May 19 /CNW/ - Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo today stated that he is pleased with a decision by the BC Court of Appeal that affirms the right of five Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations to harvest and sell fish in their traditional territories.

"This is the right decision because it upholds and affirms First Nations rights," said National Chief Atleo.  "I congratulate the Nuu-chah-nulth for persevering in the exercise of their rights and, in doing so, encouraging other First Nations peoples to exercise their rights."

The decision by the BC Court of Appeal - Ahousaht Indian Band and Nation v. Canada - upheld an earlier decision by the BC Supreme Court that recognized the right of the Nuu-chah-nulth to harvest and sell fish in their traditional territories.  In reviewing all the evidence, the Court of Appeal agreed with the original judge's findings that there was significant intertribal trade in early times at and before contact in fisheries products on the coast and across Vancouver Island by the ancestors of the Nuu-chah-nulth.

BC Regional Chief Jody Wilson-Raybould also extended congratulations to the Nuu-chah-nulth people.  "This is a win celebrated by all our Nations," said Regional Chief Wilson-Raybould.  "Our communities are in an important period of Nation building and fair access to land and resources is essential to ensure our long-term future.  It is incumbent upon the Crown to respect our rights and uphold the decision of the court, working with our Nations to implement its direction."

The Court of Appeal also agreed that Canada's management of the fisheries has not respected the Nuu-chah-nulth's Aboriginal rights and has given the parties one year to design a fishery that is consistent with these rights.

"This case shows that First Nations rights are a central part of our ability to build our economies, strengthen our people and nations and unlock our full potential," stated the National Chief.  "This decision is timely because we are setting to work on a robust agenda with the new government and understanding the connection between First Nations rights and First Nations quality of life is essential."

The Assembly of First Nations is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada. National Chief Atleo and AFN are on Twitter.  Follow us @NCAtleo @AFN_Updates @AFN_Comms.

SOURCE ASSEMBLY OF FIRST NATIONS

For further information:

Don Kelly, AFN A/Communications Director 613-241-6789 ext. 334 or cell: 613-292-2787 or email dkelly@afn.ca

Jenna Young, AFN Communications Officer 613-241-6789, ext 401 or cell: 613-314-8157 or email jyoung@afn.ca

Alain Garon, AFN Bilingual Communications Officer 613-241-6789, ext 382 or cell: 613-292-0857 or email agaron@afn.ca

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