An important court case involving a 144-year-old promise to the Ross River Dena Council began in Whitehorse this week for the second time.
The First Nation wants Canada to honour commitments made under the 1870 Rupert’s Land Order that brought Yukon into the Dominion of Canada.
The order says that “upon the transference of the territories in question to the Canadian Government, the claims of the Indian tribes to compensation for lands required for purposes of settlement will be considered and settled.”
In 2012, Yukon Supreme Court Justice Leigh Gower ruled that the 1870 order was not intended to be enforceable at the time of its drafting. So, the judge said, he does not see how it could have later acquired legal force since then.
The case was appealed last year.
The Yukon Court of Appeal ruled that the judge in the original case did not answer the right question. The interpretation of the 1870 order “was inextricably intertwined with other issues in the litigation and was not properly severed from them,” the panel of judges said when they ordered the case be tried again.
The second trial is scheduled to last three weeks.