Grand Chief Ed John of the First Nations Summit speaks to a joint meeting of cabinet and aboriginal leaders in Vancouver Thursday.

Premier urged to accept aboriginal title B.C.-wide

Aboriginal leaders call for an end to costly legal tactics and a return to title negotiations derailed in 2009

Aboriginal leaders opened their meeting with the provincial cabinet Thursday by urging them to resume discussions to recognize aboriginal title instead of dragging out case after case in the courts.

Premier Christy Clark convened the special session in Vancouver Thursday after visiting the Nemiah Valley near Williams Lake, where the Tsilhqot’in Nation established title in a landmark ruling in June. Clark signed a letter of understanding with the Tsilhqot’in to work on implementing the verdict of the Supreme Court of Canada ruling, the first to acknowledge title to a specific area of what was considered Crown land.

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs told the gathering in Vancouver that Clark’s “public platitudes” echo those of former premier Gordon Campbell in 2009 when he proposed legislation to recognize title province-wide.

That proposal caused the B.C. Business Council to “set its hair on fire” and issue “an inflammatory legal opinion” that derailed the effort, Phillip said.

In fact it was B.C. aboriginal leaders who voted the proposal down four months after it was pulled from the legislature on the eve of the 2009 B.C. election.

Grand Chief Ed John of the First Nations Summit recounted federal and provincial efforts to thwart land claims cases, from prohibiting aboriginal people from hiring lawyers in the 1920s to the tactics used in the 2007 Tsilhqot’in trial.

That trial ran for 339 days in B.C. Supreme Court, after 10 pre-trial motions by federal and provincial lawyers trying to have the case thrown out on technical grounds, John said. When that failed, Xeni Gwet’in Chief Roger William, the named plaintiff, was made to testify for 46 days and none of his testimony was used by government lawyers after that, he said.

Aboriginal Relations Minister John Rustad said the Tsilqot’in letter of understanding is a commitment to redress issues of the past, including the “wrongful trial and hanging of the Tsilhqot’in chiefs in 1864-65.”

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The State of Aging: COVID-19 exposed a long-term care system already in crisis

A look at Greater Victoria’s aging population and what that will mean for the future

Police seek ‘high-risk sex offender’ last seen in Victoria

Scott Jones is wanted on a Canada-wide warrant for being ‘unlawfully at large’

Oak Bay home ready to house refugees, immigrants

District leases two village homes to Victoria Immigrant and Refugee Centre Society

Central Saanich police sport personalized face masks

Masks feature the crest and individual officer pin numbers

Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Sept. 27 to Oct. 3

World Farm Animals Day, Drink Beer Day and Virus Appreciation Day are all coming up this week

B.C. records 98 more COVID-19 cases, most in Lower Mainland

One new senior home outbreak, Surrey Memorial outbreak over

Vancouver Island Tour de Rock riders roll into Parksville Qualicum Beach

Saturday’s schedule includes Port Alberni, Ucluelet and Tofino, followed by Nanaimo on Sunday

97 distressed horses, cats and dogs seized from farm in Princeton

RCMP assisted as BC SPCA executed search warrant

$250K reward offered as investigation continues into Sea to Sky Gondola vandalism

Police also asking for specific footage of Sea to Sky highway around time of incident

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Trudeau ‘disappointed’ by RCMP treatment of Sikh officers over mask issue

World Sikh Organization of Canada said taking Sikh officers off the front lines constitutes discrimination

Liberals reach deal with NDP on COVID-19 aid bill, likely averting election

NDP and the Liberals have reached an agreement on COVID-19 sick-leave

Money laundering inquiry delayed over of B.C. election: commissioner

Austin Cullen says the hearings will start again on Oct. 26

Most Read