Stand for Free, Prior and Informed Consent
Gitxaała Nation is taking B.C. and several “free miners”, including Global Mineral Resources Corporation, to court over mineral claims in their territory that were registered without notification, consultation or consent.
Right now, B.C. allows corporations to stake mining claims in Indigenous territory without even bothering to notify Indigenous Peoples. Gitxaała Nation is asking the court to uphold Free, Prior and Informed consent, and quash the mineral claims on Banks Island.
Take a stand for Free, Prior and Informed Consent and help keep the mining industry out of the salmon-rich waters of Banks Island.
about this campaign
A North Coast breadbasket
The mountains, wetlands, lakes, rivers and ocean waters of Banks Island, on British Columbia's north coast, are a rich nursery of marine and terrestrial life that has sustained the Gitxaała economy and culture for generations. Today, the community still relies heavily on Banks Island, including its abundant seafood.
Lax k’naga dzol, or what is now called Banks Island, is part of the Great Bear Rainforest. It is surrounded by the Great Bear Sea, a wild expanse of ocean where whales, wolves, bears, fish, seabirds and other marine life thrive.
Lax k’naga dzol is a critical part of Gitxaała territory which has been governed by a hereditary system maintained through Gitxaała’s unbroken connection to their land, waters and culture. This island has supported Gitxaała for countless millennia, providing food and shelter, and a place of security and culture to the Gitxaała people.
“Deja vu all over again”
In 2015, an illegal discharge of tailings from the Yellow Giant gold mine - a project that Gitxaała said from the beginning they did not want - devastated Banks Island’s salmon-rich creeks and near-shore areas. The company quickly went bankrupt and the mess was left to Gitxaała. As a result, the Gitxaała have called for an end to mining activities on Banks Island.
Yet the B.C. government continues to allow companies and individuals to stake mining claims on Banks Island through its Mineral Titles Online Registry with only a click of a mouse and a small fee. This gives mining companies an immediate right to access the land for mineral exploration - including certain types of drilling and digging pits and trenches - without any consultation with Gitxaała Nation.
A test case
The Gitxaała legal challenge will be the first time that an Indigenous Nation seeks a remedy under B.C.’s Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act (DRIPA) in a court case. The Gitxaała argue that B.C. has violated its DRIPA obligation to ensure mineral claim laws respect the right to free, prior and informed consent.
“BC can’t meet its commitment to implement UNDRIP while its mineral claim process is stuck in the gold rush era. If BC is serious about upholding UNDRIP then it needs to prioritize new mineral tenure laws that respect our Indigenous jurisdiction and meet BC’s own constitutional obligations.”
— Hereditary Chief Elmer Moody
Gitxaała is one of the most ancient societies on the coast. In their language, Sm’algyax, the Gitxaała refer to themselves as Git Lax M'oon (“People of the Salt Water”). Their main community, the village of Lach Klan (Kitkatla) has been continuously inhabited since time immemorial.
Gitxaała hereditary house leaders from the four clans – Gisbutwada (Blackfish), Ganhada (Raven), Lax Sgyiik (Eagle) and Lax Gyibu (Wolf) - manage and protect their house territories and resources according to their ayaawx, or Gitxaała laws. Gitxaała harvesters use almost 100 different marine and terrestrial species to feed their community.
Gitxaała citizens, wherever they reside, celebrate their history, practice their traditions, respect their laws, and cherish their lands, waters and resources. (Source: Gitxaała Nation website).