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“I am a Canadian, free to speak without fear, free to worship in my own way, free to stand for what I think right, free to oppose what I believe wrong, or free to choose those who shall govern my country. This heritage of freedom I pledge to uphold for myself and all mankind.” ~~ John G. Diefenbaker

FELDSTED -- the Delgamuukw decision did not address indigenous governance, sovereignty, or any of the issues respecting indigenous self-governance -- those issues remain unresolved

Our government’s approach to negotiations with hereditary chiefs is perplexing, unorthodox and unclear; it also appears our government has capitulated to the demands of Hereditary Chiefs.

The 1997 Supreme Court Delgamuukw decision, (File No. 23799) does not appear to be a landmark decision in any way shape or form. The Delgamuukw decision did not provide indigenous people or hereditary chiefs with unfettered ownership of claimed lands.

The decision held that hereditary title was not absolute, and could be overridden to allow for projects in the best interests of non-indigenous people.     

Supreme Court of Canada
The decision did not set out the extent of claimed lands; that still must be negotiated. Claims are still outstanding.

The Delgamuukw decision did not provide hereditary chiefs with ownership of claimed lands; it held that indigenous land ownership was held by the community, not by chiefs.

Indigenous people cannot enjoy land ownership rights that surpasses the rights of non-indigenous land owners. When we are faced with public works projects including natural resources developments, roads and highways, power transmission lines, telephone and cable lines, transmission towers and a host of other works, our property rights can be overridden by expropriation or easements with commensurate compensation.

The BC tentative agreement cannot be allowed to change to course of common law land ownership precedents.

Finally, the Delgamuukw decision did not address indigenous governance, sovereignty, or any of the issues respecting indigenous self-governance. Those issues remain unresolved. 

The Supreme Court of Canada held that such issues would require a separate trial.

Negotiating with hereditary chiefs under this backdrop is very high risk. Our Prime Minister’s pleas for patience are nonsense.

The government has not shared the substance of the alleged agreements with us, so we have nothing to be patient about.

This government has made no effort to ensure that road and rail disruptions won’t start up again tomorrow, or on any subsequent day. We are left vulnerable without excuse.

This government has to go; it is failing to maintain order and peace.

John Feldsted
Political Commentator, Consultant & Strategist
Winnipeg, Manitoba


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