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

Sister of cancer victim cycles across Canada to raise awareness

Her journey started on May 14 and will end in early August

Top women’s hockey player Natalie Spooner coming to the Okanagan

Natalie Spooner special guest at annual Grindstone Award Foundation charity weekend in Kelowna

Woman in hospital after being thrown off horse

She was airlifted to Kelowna General Hospital from Okanagan Falls

Update: Washed out South Okanagan road temporarily closed for assessment

A portion of Eastside Road, south of Penticton, appears to be crumbling into Skaha Lake

Okanagan Regional Library hosts famous author

Author of The Woo Woo, Lindsay Wong will be in Kelowna Tuesday

‘Teams that win are tight’: B.C. Lions search for chemistry at training camp

The Lions added more than 50 new faces over the off-season, from coaching staff to key players

Update: Plan to see more smoke from South Okanagan wildfire

Richter Creek wildfire, 12 kilometres west of Osoyoos, is an estimated 400 hectares

Growing wildfire prompts evacuation of High Level, Alta.

Chuckegg Creek fire has been burning for several day, but grew substantially Sunday

Okanagan art gallery releases their theme

Fine arts painting will be the point of focus for this year’s event

South Okanagan search and rescue help injured climber

Search and rescue called on the assistance of a helicopter to help retrieve an injured hiker

Okanagan nature centre fundraiser goes western

Allan Brook’s Nature Centre Wine and Wild West Fundraiser is on July 6

Marriage proposal on the big screen at Enderby drive-in

Kelowna man gets engaged in front of hundreds to Vernon sweetheart

Take-home drug testing kits latest pilot to help curb B.C.’s overdose crisis

Researchers look to see if fentanyl testing could be a useful tool for those who use drugs alone

Firefighters respond to bus fire on Highway 1

Smoke in coach bus reported to have been caused by overheating, driver and passengers safe

Most Read