HomeMarket NewsMiningGitxaala First Nation Seeks Appeal on BC Supreme Court Decision Regarding UNDRIP

Gitxaala First Nation Seeks Appeal on BC Supreme Court Decision Regarding UNDRIP

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The Gitxaala First Nation, along with the Ehattesahet First Nation, recently took their case to court in relation to British Columbia’s Mineral Tenure Act. Their primary concern is that mineral claims can be granted within their territories without their consent or knowledge. They sought the following from the court:

  • An injunction to halt the granting of any future mineral claims without their consent.
  • The cancellation of several claims that have already been issued.
  • A declaration that the Mineral Tenure Act is inconsistent with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act (DRIPA).

Although BC Supreme Court Justice Alan Ross acknowledged the duty of the province to consult with First Nations, even at the earliest stages of mineral exploration, he declined to grant the requested injunctions or cancel existing claims. Instead, he gave the provincial government 18 months to resolve conflicts between the Mineral Tenure Act, Canadian laws governing the duty to consult, and DRIPA.

Ross stated that DRIPA is more of an “interpretive aid” than a law, and it does not implement UNDRIP into domestic law. However, the Gitxaala First Nation is appealing this ruling and seeks a declaration from the Appeal Court that DRIPA applies to all laws in British Columbia.

In a press release, Gitxaała Chief Councillor Linda Innes expressed dissatisfaction with the court’s decision, stating, “The provincial government fought us tooth and claw in court to argue that DRIPA – the law B.C. itself enacted to uphold UNDRIP – is not legally enforceable. But DRIPA must be more than an empty political promise.”

(This article first appeared in Business in Vancouver)

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