A Supreme Court of Canada ruling has dealt a blow to a 275-year-old treaty between the Mi’kmaq and the British Crown and in the process has jeopardized commercial Native logging rights.
The July 20 decision in the Marshall-Bernard case stated that the Mi’kmaq do not have a treaty right to harvest wood on crown lands without a permit.
“This Supreme Court decision is disappointing for First Nations but it is not the final word on treaty rights and Aboriginal rights and title in Canada, or even the Atlantic,” AFN National Chief Phil Fontaine said in a press release.
The Court said in a statement that when the treaty was signed, Mi’kmaq people were only using the wood for “personal use,” not commercially trading it with other nations.
Although the ruling does not settle the issue of how much wood can be harvested, or even who is allowed to harvest for personal use, it shuts the door on future commercial trade.