Carrier-Sekani First Nations Have Already Staked Territory Claimed by Mineral Prospectors

Media Release

For Immediate Release

February 8, 2005

Carrier-Sekani First Nations Have Already Staked Territory Claimed by Mineral Prospectors

Dakelh Traditional Territory (Prince George, B.C.) – “The B.C. provincial government’s online mineral staking system is illegal,” affirmed Carrier Sekani Tribal Chief Harry Pierre. The Tribal Chief was responding to the government’s new program, in operation since January.

Chief Pierre states, “The Province and industry should understand that consultation and accommodation of our Rights and Title must occur at the earliest stage – in this case there should have been consultation and accommodation on the government’s new plan. Northgate Minerals Inc. (Kemess North) and Placer Dome (Mt. Milligan) are two mining examples in the CSTC territory where there was no consultation at the exploration stage and subsequently these projects may not be approved by the First Nations.” Northgate has committed not to proceed with their project unless First Nations approve the plan.

In 1982, the Carrier Sekani Tribal Council had its comprehensive land claim reviewed and accepted by the federal government for negotiation after it recognized that CSTC first nations had prima facie title to their land. In 1992, the federal government combined its comprehensive lands claims process into the B.C. treaty process. The BC Treaty Commission, overseers of the treaty process, acknowledges that Canada confirms “under section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982, aboriginal rights and treaty rights, both existing and those that may be acquired are recognized and affirmed.”

On November 18, 2004, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in the Haida and Taku decisions that the Crown is legally obligated to meaningfully consult with First Nations where government has knowledge of an activity that could impact prima facie Aboriginal title and rights. These decisions reaffirmed that First Nations have an enforceable right to be involved in land use decisions that will impact their traditional territories. Moreover, the highest court clearly renounced the legal and moral intransigence displayed by government and industry toward First Nations these past 150 years.

“Today, we are that much closer to the recognition that we have been seeking since contact – that we are the original peoples and owners of this land and that we must have a say in what goes on in our territories,” said Chief Pierre.

“Government has been saying that we must prove our Aboriginal Title in a court of law before we have the right to be consulted, but this decision says government itself has not done enough to prove their own title to the land they call British Columbia.”

“Every inch of recognition and accommodation given to First Nations has come through the courts. Government has made it clear that they are unwilling to recognize and deal fairly with our people unless compelled to by the court.” However, said the Tribal Chief, “First Nations don’t want to litigate unless absolutely necessary. They want to build new relationships with the Crown and industry, where decision-making on land use is shared and where meaningful consultation and accommodation is basic to doing business in B.C.”

For More Information: Angie Grant, Executive Assistant to Tribal Chief Harry Pierre, 250-562-6279.

Informant: Carrie Dann


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