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Gitxaała Nation appeals Court’s refusal to apply UNDRIP and stop unconstitutional mineral tenures

LACH KLAN / KITKATLA, Gitxaała Territories, BC – Today, the Gitxaała Nation commenced a partial
appeal of the BC Supreme Court decision in Gitxaała v. British Columbia (Chief Gold Commissioner).

In its judgment, the BC Supreme Court declared that the current online system for automatic
registration of mineral claims in BC, without a system for consultation, breaches the constitutional
obligations of the provincial Crown. Gitxaała is not appealing that declaration.

Gitxaała is appealing: (1) the Court’s refusal to quash the specific mineral claims challenged by Gitxaała;
(2) the Court’s refusal to prevent further automatic claim-staking in Gitxaała territories; and (3) the
Court’s decision that the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act (DRIPA) is not legally

“Our case was an important win that confirmed BC’s automatic mineral claim regime breaches our
constitutional rights, but the Court has allowed the harm in our territory to continue,” said Gitxaała
Sm’ooygit Nees Hiwaas (Matthew Hill). “There has been no consequence to the Province and the ‘free
miners’ for violating our ayaawx (Gitxaała law) and Canada’s constitution. We do not accept that

The Court suspended its declaration to allow the Province 18 months to design a new mineral tenure
regime, while stating that “all mineral claims registered under the existing system are valid.” As it
stands, the current automated system remains in place.

Sm’ooygit Nees Hiwaas observed: “With every passing day, the provincial government is taking
advantage of the temporary suspension in the Court’s ruling to grant new unconstitutional mineral
claims. The Province must immediately halt unconstitutional automatic grants of mineral claims in our

The judgment was also the first to substantively consider the legal effect of DRIPA. The Court accepted
the provincial government’s arguments that DRIPA “does not call upon the courts to adjudicate”
consistency of BC’s law with UNDRIP.

“The provincial government fought us tooth and claw in Court to argue that DRIPA – the law BC itself
enacted to uphold UNDRIP – is not legally enforceable,” said Gitxaała Chief Councillor Linda Innes. “The
Court’s decision is a result of BC’s efforts to score political points on DRIPA while avoiding any legal
accountability – but DRIPA must be more than an empty political promise.”

Chief Innes added: “While the Court’s decision requires BC to design a new mineral tenure system, the
provincial government has not been willing to publicly admit that the current mineral tenure system is
inconsistent with UNDRIP. That does not bode well for reform. Frankly it’s shameful that the BC
government fought against its own law in court, forcing us to continue legal action just to ensure UNDRIP’s minimum standards are upheld in an overhaul of the mineral tenure regime.

For more information, please contact:

James Herbert, Senior Advisor, Gitxaała Nation: 778-881-1534,

Notice of appeal attached.

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