Grand Chief Ed John of the First Nations Summit speaks to a joint meeting of cabinet and aboriginal leaders in Vancouver Thursday.

Grand Chief Ed John of the First Nations Summit speaks to a joint meeting of cabinet and aboriginal leaders in Vancouver Thursday.

Premier urged to accept aboriginal title B.C.-wide

Aboriginal leaders call for an end to costly legal tactics and a return to title negotiations derailed in 2009

Aboriginal leaders opened their meeting with the provincial cabinet Thursday by urging them to resume discussions to recognize aboriginal title instead of dragging out case after case in the courts.

Premier Christy Clark convened the special session in Vancouver Thursday after visiting the Nemiah Valley near Williams Lake, where the Tsilhqot’in Nation established title in a landmark ruling in June. Clark signed a letter of understanding with the Tsilhqot’in to work on implementing the verdict of the Supreme Court of Canada ruling, the first to acknowledge title to a specific area of what was considered Crown land.

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs told the gathering in Vancouver that Clark’s “public platitudes” echo those of former premier Gordon Campbell in 2009 when he proposed legislation to recognize title province-wide.

That proposal caused the B.C. Business Council to “set its hair on fire” and issue “an inflammatory legal opinion” that derailed the effort, Phillip said.

In fact it was B.C. aboriginal leaders who voted the proposal down four months after it was pulled from the legislature on the eve of the 2009 B.C. election.

Grand Chief Ed John of the First Nations Summit recounted federal and provincial efforts to thwart land claims cases, from prohibiting aboriginal people from hiring lawyers in the 1920s to the tactics used in the 2007 Tsilhqot’in trial.

That trial ran for 339 days in B.C. Supreme Court, after 10 pre-trial motions by federal and provincial lawyers trying to have the case thrown out on technical grounds, John said. When that failed, Xeni Gwet’in Chief Roger William, the named plaintiff, was made to testify for 46 days and none of his testimony was used by government lawyers after that, he said.

Aboriginal Relations Minister John Rustad said the Tsilqot’in letter of understanding is a commitment to redress issues of the past, including the “wrongful trial and hanging of the Tsilhqot’in chiefs in 1864-65.”

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The City of Victoria filed a petition with the Supreme Court of B.C. March 2 to have it clarify whether, under the Trustee Act, Beacon Hill Park can be used for temporary sheltering. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria asks court to clarify if Beacon Hill Park can be used for sheltering

City of Victoria filed petition to Supreme Court of B.C. March 2

The application proposing to rezone Western Speedway was passed by Langford’s planning, zoning and affordable housing committee Feb 8. A petition has since been started by residents of Trudie Terrace, hoping to stop the proposed residential portion of the development plan. (CBRE Victoria)
Petition opposing Western Speedway development proposal gains steam

Save Thetis Heights Neighborhood petition aims to stop extension of Trudie Terrace

Activists from the Fairy Creek Blockades hold the injunction application notice which was submitted by logging company Teal Jones to the B.C. Supreme Court. The application, which asks to have blockaders removed from the sites that stop access to cut blocks, is set to be heard on March 4. (Photo contributed/Joshua Wright)
Activists hunker down to protect Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew from logging

Forest company Teal Cedar applies for injunction to remove seven-month-old blockades

Boma Brown won the Emerging Leader Award for her work founding the Support Network for Indigenous Women and Women of Colour. (Courtesy of Boma Brown)
Victoria SNIWWOC founder up for national women’s award for volunteer efforts

Victoria’s Boma Brown is a semi-finalist in the running for the L’Oreal Paris Women of Worth award

Older rental apartments are prime candidates for renovations, and could result in lost affordable housing stock. (Zoë Ducklow photo)
B.C.’s renoviction overhaul a good start, but won’t preserve affordable stock, lawyer says

And still no protection for people who can’t pay rent due to COVID-19

(Photo by Marissa Baecker/Shoot the Breeze)
B.C. WHL teams to hit the ice with Kelowna, Kamloops hub cities

Kelowna, Kamloops centres chosen to host B.C. WHL teams for 24-game regular season

The victim of the homicide on Cowichan Lake Road early Monday morning was 17 years old, and was stabbed in the incident. (File photo)
Duncan homicide victim was 17 years old

RCMP report that teenager was stabbed

(Black Press file photo)
Agassiz boy, 11, dies from ‘extensive injuries’: Homicide team

Agassiz RCMP were called out Friday to assist with a child in medical distress

(File photo)
RCMP arrest man after report of gun-toting threat-maker near Parksville schools

43-year-old man taken into custody; students at nearby schools were asked to stay inside

The machines are akin to ATMs and allow drug users at risk of overdose to get hydromorphone pills dispensed to them after their palm has been scanned to identify its unique vein pattern. (CANADIAN PRESS)
Feds dole out $3.5M for ‘vending machines’ to dispense safer opioids in B.C.

The machines are located in four cities across Canada, including Vancouver and Victoria

Kelowna’s lakefront visitor centre is one of 130 around the province. Tourism businesses have been hardest hit by COVID-19 restrictions on travel. (Destination B.C.)
Tourism, small business getting COVID-19 help, B.C. minister says

$300M grant program has delivered $50 million so far

Most Read