AFN National Chief Welcomes Decision by B.C. Court of Appeal reaffirming fishing rights - says it's high time to get on with implementing First Nation rights

OTTAWA, July 2, 2013 /CNW/ - National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo stated today that First Nations welcome the B.C. Court of Appeal reaffirming its earlier major legal ruling recognizing the commercial fishing rights of Nuu-chah-nulth Nations.

As a lead plaintiff in a legal action on behalf of his home nation Ahousaht that began 10 years ago, National Chief Atleo commented today: "Once again the courts have upheld our inherent rights to a commercial fishery as we the Nuu-chah-nulth have fully demonstrated that both harvesting and selling fish were and continue to be integral to our society and economy. Governments must finally get to the negotiating table as instructed by the Courts to recognize and reconcile our rights. The Crown's repeated attempts to appeal this case have all failed - we must end this legal wrangling and delay and get on with the recognition and implementation of our rights."

For the last decade, the Nuu-chah-nulth have sought legal recognition of their right to practice their traditional economy, consistent with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. National Chief Atleo applauds the Court's decision and encourages the Government of Canada to negotiate with the Nuu-chah-nulth in good faith to quickly implement the decision after 3½ years of stalling.

The court case was first filed in 2003, when the Nuu-chah-nulth Nations filed a Writ of Summons against Canada and British Columbia. In 2011, the B.C. Court of Appeals upheld a 2009 decision from the B.C. Supreme Court finding that the Nuu-chah-nulth Nations have a right to engage in economic fisheries. In March 2012, the Supreme Court of Canada referred the case back to the B.C. Court of Appeal in light of the Lax Kw'alaams decision. The B.C. Court of Appeal upheld their previous ruling reaffirming the rights of the Nuu-chah-nulth to harvest and sell fish.

The Assembly of First Nations is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada. Follow AFN on Twitter @AFN_Comms, @AFN_Updates.

SOURCE: Assembly of First Nations

For further information:

Alain Garon AFN Bilingual Communications Officer 613-241-6789, ext. 382; 613-292-0857 or

Jenna Young AFN Communications Officer 613-241-6789, ext. 401; 613-314-8157 or

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