Subsistence or Sale?: An Analysis of Historical Questions Raised in R v. Gladstone

Aidan Conrad


This paper takes an analytical look at the historical basis behind the 1996 decision of the Supreme Court of Canada to recognize that the Heiltsuk had a historic right to harvest and sale of Pacific herring. In examining the history of the Heiltsuk spawn trade the paper traces the evolution of federal fisheries legislation and its ultimate effects on the wider indigenous fishery in British Columbia. The ultimate purpose of this paper is to show how history as a tool can help bring clarity to indigenous rights and pave the way for a healthier relationship between the indigenous peoples of British Columbia and the Canadian government.

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