Gitxaala Chiefs, Intervenors and Media React to Landmark BC Supreme Court Ruling
RAVEN is awash in messages of gratitude following the Supreme Court of BC issued a decision on Gitxaała’s legal challenge against free mining in B.C.
The Court’s ruling mandates the government to implement substantial changes to the existing mineral tenure system in B.C. In a 90 page decision, Justice Ross declared that the current online system for automatic registration of mineral claims, lacking a consultation mechanism, is “simply wrong.” Why? Because granting prospectors access to territory — without consulting or even informing the Nation on whose land the claim is staked — breaches the constitutional obligations of the Crown. Thanks to this transformational judgement, BC has been given an 18-month window to design a new, constitutionally valid regime.
Gitxaała Nation Reacts
Gitxaała Chief Councillor Linda Innes welcomed the Court’s decision, emphasizing that
“The Court’s decision makes clear what we knew all along: BC owes a duty to consult Gitxaała and other Indigenous nations prior to granting mineral claims in our territories, and it is breaching that duty. The provincial government must now act quickly to eliminate its unjust practice of selling off our rights without our consultation or consent.”
As the Court decision means it will be 18 months before Nations can benefit from the new system, Innes expressed deep regret that the mineral claims challenged in this case were not set aside, a decision that “leaves our territory open for continued mineral claims staking without consultation for the time being.”
Gitanyow Hereditary Chiefs — intervenors in the legal challenge — react
Gitanyow Hereditary Chiefs, whose intervention in this legal challenge was also funded by RAVEN, played a pivotal role in securing a favourable decision. Representatives for Gitanyow Chiefs shared their views in court after multiple mineral claims were made on their lax’yip (territory) in the Meziadin watershed, and White and Kinskuch Rivers.
Highlighting the slow response from B.C. to prioritise mineral tenure reform, Naxginkw Tara Marsden, Wilp Sustainability Director for Gitanyow Hereditary Chiefs said of Gitxaała’s victory, “The duty to consult is long overdue and should not have taken so much time and resources, but the tide is finally turning, it’s our right to decide how our lands are used.”
In the News
This BC Supreme Court decision is making waves across news platforms, proving what we already knew: Canadians care deeply about the rights of Indigenous Peoples and want to see that they are upheld in colonial courts. With Meta bans on Canadian news, please continue to share these stories throughout your networks.
This BC Supreme Court decision has far-reaching implications for mineral tenure in the province. It underscores the importance of consultation with Indigenous Nations before granting mineral claims. While the Court has allowed an 18-month window for reforms, you can be sure that RAVEN will be following this story closely.