Xeni Gwet'in Chief Roger William

Aboriginal title ‘a first step,’ UBCM told

Landmark Tsilhqot'in decision will be the first of many declarations, lawyer tells local government representatives

WHISTLER – Canada’s first declaration of aboriginal title is the first of many to come across B.C. and it should be viewed as a step forward for relations with the province and local governments, delegates to the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention were told Tuesday.

A standing-room-only crowd of local politicians heard a summary of the June decision of the Supreme Court of Canada declaring title to 1,700 square kilometres of the Nemiah Valley near Williams Lake. The title area is no longer considered Crown land.

Alexis Creek First Nation Chief Percy Guichon called the landmark Tsilhqot’in Nation case “the first step to reconciliation” between aboriginal and non-aboriginal communities.

“For far too long, provincial and federal governments have somehow minimized First Nations’ rights,” Guichon told delegates. “It only has brought on negatives, such as legislating us to poverty on these small areas they call reserves.”

Vancouver lawyer Gregg Cockrill said the declaration of title on Tsilhqot’in lands may be the most significant court decision in B.C. history, and there will be many more to come, either by court rulings or treaties that define areas of aboriginal title.

For areas not subject to title declarations, local governments do not have the same legal obligation to consult First Nations as the federal and provincial governments do, Cockrill said.

Xeni Gwet’in Chief Roger William, whose Tsilhqot’in community was the subject of the landmark case, said the next step is to build a positive relationship with the B.C. government. William praised Premier Christy Clark’s decision to be the first B.C. premier to visit his territory, and to agree to return in October to mark the 150th anniversary of the hanging of Tsilhqot’in chiefs in Quesnel during colonial times.

William, also an area director of the Cariboo Regional District, said the next step is to develop Tsilhqot’in laws to govern resource development.

In the wake of the federal government’s rejection of a gold mine project in the region, the Tsilhqot’in Nation has developed a draft mining policy. Guichon said the draft has been presented to governments and industry for their input, and the goal is to work cooperatively on resource development as has been done in the forest industry in the region.

 

Just Posted

Sooke’s Old-Fashioned Country Picnic set for Saturday

The free event combines music, kids activities, food and fun

Playground honour RCMP constable and mother killed by drunk driver in Langford to open on time

‘There will be a few tears’: Sarah Beckett Memorial Playground opens on Aug. 24

Feast of Fields set to take place at Snowdon House farm in North Saanich

Event on Aug. 25 will feature Q at the Empress, Church & State, Phillips Brewing and more

Central Saanich church to bless pets

Blessing might offer redemption

Urbanists hope to see Victoria’s unused rooftops, parkades, parking lots become usable green space

Downtown Residents Association says city dwellers should have access to parks

70 years of lifting: Canadian man, 85, could cinch weightlifting championship

The senior gym junkie is on track to win the World Masters Weightlifting championship

Sooke’s Old-Fashioned Country Picnic set for Saturday

The free event combines music, kids activities, food and fun

U16 B.C. fastpitch team named national champs

Girls went undefeated at national tournament in Calgary

Advocates ‘internationalize’ the fight to free Raif Badawi from Saudi prison

Raif Badawi was arrested on June 17, 2012, and was later sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in jail for his online criticism of Saudi clerics

Canadian entrepreneurs turning beer byproduct into bread, cookies and profits

Some breweries turn to entrepreneurs looking to turn spent grain into treats for people and their pets

Canada ‘disappointed’ terror suspect’s British citizenship revoked

Jack Letts, who was dubbed “Jihadi Jack” by the U.K. media, has been detained in a Kurdish prison for about two years

Most Read