CBC News
The back of an unassuming, though magenta, hoodie that sparked a controversy far beyond the middle school where it was banned. These and other stories dominated the headlines of indigenous-related stories in Canada during 2014.

'Got Land' Hoodies, Sealfies and Missing Women: 10 Stories of Indigenous Note in Canada for 2014

Theresa Braine
12/30/14

Among other landmarks in a significant year for Indigenous Peoples in Canada, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of a First Nation’s title to its land and the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief resigned. Overall, 2014 was marked by victories, as major suits were decided in Indigenous Peoples’ favor and various governments rejected destructive mining proposals—though the continuing, and unaddressed, issue of missing and murdered aboriginal women remained at the forefront as well.

TSILHQOT’IN RULING

What was probably the biggest Native news of the year took place about halfway through the calendar, when the Supreme Court of Canada radically altered the way land claims and treaties would be viewed. In an unprecedented move, the court granted aboriginal title to the Tsilhqot’in of more than 675 square miles of territory. The wide-ranging ruling has implications for everything from pipelines to sovereignty, according to experts. That is because the ruling formally acknowledged that Indigenous Peoples can claim occupancy and control over vast tracts of land beyond the settlement sites to which they have been relegated.

RELATED: Major Victory: Canadian Supreme Court Hands Tsilhqot’in Aboriginal Title

Video: Tsilhqot'in First Nation Ruling Could Affect Pipeline Projects

MISSING AND MURDERED WOMEN

Calls continued for a national inquiry into why indigenous women meet so much more often with violence, often fatal. A report by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in May brought stark attention to the issue with its count of more than 1,200 missing or murdered indigenous women in the country, a figure that dwarfed statistics compiled previously by advocates. Before that, the murder of 26-year-old, pregnant First Nation grad student Loretta Saunders, who was researching that very topic for her thesis when she went missing in Nova Scotia in February, broke hearts and drew national attention to the issue. The problem was further highlighted by separate attacks on two First Nation teenagers in Winnipeg—15-year-old Tina Fontaine, whose body was pulled from the Red River after she ran away from a foster home, and 16-year-old Rinelle Harper, who survived a brutal assault not long after that and emerged from the hospital calling for a national inquiry into the issue. Prime Minister Stephen Harper drew broad criticism just before Christmas when he told CBC host Peter Mansbridge, "it isn't really high on our radar, to be honest."

RELATED: Heartbreak in Winnipeg: Bodies of Two First Nations Citizens Pulled From Red River

Vigil for Murdered Teen and Homeless Hero Draws 1,300 Mourners in Winnipeg

Nearly 1,200 Missing, Murdered Aboriginal Women in Canada: RCMP

Aboriginal Women 'Overrepresented' Among Violence Victims: RCMP

Body of Inuit Student Researching Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Found

A vigil for 15-year-old murder victim Tina Fontaine, whose body was pulled from the Red River along with a homeless aboriginal man who had died trying to save a swimmer, drew more than 1,000 people. (Photo: Aboriginal Peoples Television Network)

ATLEO RESIGNATION

In May, Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo stepped down in the middle of a second term that he had squeaked by to win, citing conflict over the First Nations Education Act. The resignation led to a debate over whether the AFN was even relevant any more, so estranged had it become from the grass roots. On December 10, Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations (FSIN) Chief Perry Bellegarde was handily elected as the new National Chief.

RELATED: Assembly of First Nations Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo Resigns, Citing Education Act

Is the Assembly of First Nations With Its National Chief Part of the Problem or Solution?

New AFN Chief Declares No New Pipelines Without First Nation Consultation

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