"First Nations in British Columbia must be consulted before any mineral claims
are made in their territories, according to a decision released Tuesday by the
B.C. Supreme Court.
This spring, Gitxaała Nation and Ehattesaht First Nation argued in court that
the current way of giving out rights to minerals is based on a “colonial
holdover,” which allowed claims to be made in their territories without
“The court’s decision makes clear what we knew all along: B.C. owes a duty to
consult Gitxaała and other Indigenous nations prior to granting mineral claims
in our territories, and it is breaching that duty,” Gitxaała Chief Councillor
Linda Innes said in a statement.
The province’s current online system allows almost anyone to make a mineral
claim. With a few clicks and a fee, certified individuals or companies can get
the mineral rights to a plot of land. There is no duty to consult or notify
First Nations if the mineral claim is in their territories before making the
claim or exploring the area with handheld tools.
Without consultation, the process “causes adverse impacts upon areas of
significant cultural and spiritual importance” to Gitxaała Nation and
Ehattesaht First Nation, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Alan Ross wrote in his
written decision. The current process also affects the Nations’ rights “to own,
and achieve the financial benefit from, the minerals within their asserted
The province now has an 18-month deadline to consult with First Nations and
change the current process and include the duty to consult.
“While the court suspended its declaration for 18 months, the case demonstrates
that immediate overhaul of B.C.’s mineral tenure regime is required,” Innes
The case was also the first time courts considered the legal effect of the
province’s commitment to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of
Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP)."
Via Future Crunch
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