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Supreme Court of Canada Dismisses Leave to Appeal in Ross River Dena Council

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Aboriginal Law Bulletin

On September 19, 2013, the Supreme Court of Canada dismissed an application for leave to appeal the Yukon Court of Appeal decision in Ross River Dena Council v. Government of Yukon, 2012 YKCA 14.

The Yukon Court of Appeal had held that the Government of Yukon must consult before opening up for staking (and for the acquisition of mineral title) areas covered by Aboriginal title claims of the Ross River Dena Council (RRDC), a non-treaty Yukon First Nation. Additionally, the Court held that an opportunity to consult with the RRDC must be inserted into the mineral title regime before certain activities could take place on mineral claims, where claim holders are presently able to undertake such activities without any permit or licence from the Crown. Recognizing that such changes might take some time to implement, the Court suspended the operation of the decision for one year. For further information on Government of Yukon v. Ross River Dena Council, please see our bulletin on the Court of Appeal’s decision released December 2012, and our bulletin on the Supreme Court of Yukon decision released November 2011.

The Yukon Court of Appeal emphasized that there was nothing fundamentally wrong with the free entry (or the "open entry") system, just that there needs to be some modification. The Yukon has taken up this challenge in parallel with bringing this application for leave and is in the process of consultation on amendments to the Yukon Quartz Mining Act. See our bulletin on the proposed amendments for more details. The shape these amendments take in light of the Supreme Court’s decision remains uncertain.

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