The Sparrow Case
In 1990, the Supreme Court of Canada made their first decision relating to the meaning of aboriginal rights contained in the 1982 Constitution. Ron Sparrow, a Musqueam, had been charged under the Fisheries Act with using a drift net longer than permitted. He argued that he had an aboriginal right to fish for food and ceremonial purposes and that both the federal and provincial governments bear the burden of justifying any legislation that may adversely affect any aboriginal right protected under the Constitution. Commenting on the decision, Ken Malloway of the Aboriginal Council of British Columbia stated, "It is a reminder to all Canadians that First Nations have legitimate concerns about our place in Canada and the best way to ensure our survival. We bring to this country cultures that have very deep historical roots. We have long felt that this uniqueness enriches all Canadians. Now it appears that the Supreme Court appreciates this."