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

Harrison to bring better lighting to boat launch

The four new lights were made possible by not replacing concrete light poles on Hot Springs Road

Rail group to bring plan to Abbotsford council

Group is calling for plans to run trains on rail line between Chilliwack and Surrey

EDITORIAL: What does being a Corn Capital really mean?

The Observer has been asked to help Agassiz become a bigger Corn Capital. But what does that mean?

Construction project in Hope means bus diversion starting today

Bus riders will have to flag down driver for Route 22

Figures reveal spike in highway traffic jams between Abbotsford and Langley

Nearly one in 20 westbound vehicles between Abbotsford and Langley clocked at under 60 km/h

VIDEO: Agassiz remembers local officer at grave-marking ceremony

Montague White-Fraser had been buried in the Old Cemetery for 92 years without a headstone

VIDEO: Young couple found dead in northern B.C. had been shot, police say

Chynna Noelle Deese of the U.S. and Lucas Robertson Fowler of Australia were found along Highway 97

VIDEO: Man found dead near B.C. teens’ truck could be linked to a double homicide

RCMP said they are looking for Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, of Port Alberni

Family of missing B.C. senior with dementia frustrated with situation, heartened by community support

Nine days since Grace was last seen the question remains: ‘How can an 86-year-old just disappear?’

Okanagan Air Cadet challenges gender-exclusive haircut policy

Haircut regulation inspires challenge around gender identity

Hazmat incident closes down Lower Mainland street

One person is believed to be dead, police said

Latest plan is to fly trapped fish by helicopter over Big Bar slide

Multi-pronged plan set in motion to freesalmon blocked by landslide in the Fraser River

Unsealed record suggests U.S. man convicted of murdering Vancouver Island couple left DNA on zip tie in 1987

William Talbott is set to be sentenced Wednesday in the murders of Jay Cook and Tanya Van Cuylenborg

Pride flags stolen from Lower Mainland church

Went missing sometime Friday night, says Maple Ridge reverend

Most Read