FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – March 30, 2022
LACH KLAN / KITKATLA, Gitxaała territory, BC Gitxaała elected Chief Councilor Linda Innes released the following statement today in response to BC’s commitment to “modernize the Mineral Tenure Act in consultation and cooperation with First Nations and First Nations organizations”, which BC tabled before the Legislature as part of its Action Plan under the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act:
Gitxaała welcomes today’s commitment from BC to reform the Mineral Tenure Act. However, Gitxaala is concerned that BC is promising change politically, while simultaneously fighting to maintain the status quo in the courtroom.
In October 2021, Gitxaała launched a judicial review of mineral claims granted by BC in the heart of territories without our consent, and with no consultation or notice. BC grants mineral claims an automatic online process, giving away rights to Indigenous territories as if we do not exist. through Gitxaała’s case asks the Court to overturn the challenged mineral claims and suspend further claimduty to consult, and staking in our territories. We also seek declarations that BC has failed to meet its that its mineral claim regime is inconsistent with the constitutional honour of the Crown and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).
The BC government filed its response in Gitxaała’s litigation on March 17 BC is opposing all relief requested by Gitxaała in the case, including our requested declaration that BC’ s mineral claim regime is inconsistent with UNDRIP.
It will be difficult to meaningfully reform the Mineral Tenure Act to align it with UNDRIP while BC is refusing to admit the basic problems. We call on the BC government to publicly acknowledge that its current practice of granting mineral claims automatically under the Mineral Tenure Act is inconsistent with UNDRIP. We hope that this will be a first step towards respectful cooperation with Indigenous nations in overhauling an unjust law.
While Gitxaała supports the prompt launch of a process to reform the Mineral Tenure Act, we cannot accept BC’s intention to maintain and continue to grant mineral claims in our territories in the meantime, without consent consultation. Consequently, Gitxaała will continue to pursue our case.
Since the BC government continues to file new evidence in Gitxaała’s legal proceeding, Gitxaała will not be making further comments to the media at this time.
For questions regarding background, contact:
James Herbert, Senior Advisor,
Gitxaała Territorial Management Agency
Ph 778-881-1534 | Email: email@example.com