Beyond the Nass Valley

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About 10,000 years ago, humans started to walk cross the Bering Strait, pushing southward to populate the Americas. On December 11, 1997, the Supreme Court of Canada released its judgment in the case, Delgamuukw vs. British Columbia, defining the rights of those Aboriginal people vis-à-vis later arrivals who came by ship from another direction. The majority decision was written by Chief Justice Antonio Lamer, who retired two years later. Four judges concurred with him; two added their own finer points. Beyond the Art Deco marble walls of the courthouse, the media and public reaction at the time reflected no obvious consensus. Responses ranged from jubilant vindication to apocalyptic warnings. One might have expected as much, given the immense scope of Lamer's decision. At its core, the Delgamuukw decision judges what our long past shall now mean as Canadians decide upon serious issues of the ownership and use of land, economic development, governance and social relations-issues that will affect every Canadian, in every corner of the country.

The national significance of Delgamuukw case prompted the Fraser Institute to hold two conferences on the issue, the first in Vancouver in July 1998 and a second and larger one in Ottawa in April 1999. This book contains the papers and proceedings of those two events.

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