First Nations’ court challenge to B.C.’s mineral rights system begins today (CBC News British Columbia – April 3, 2023)

Province says it is committed to modernizing the system in consultation with Indigenous people

A challenge by two First Nations against the way British Columbia grants mineral claims begins in B.C. Supreme Court on Monday morning, marking the first legal test of the province’s Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act.

The Gitxaała and Ehattesaht First Nations have sued the province over its Mineral Tenures Act, which currently grants mineral claims for a nominal fee via an online system and does not include initial consultation with Indigenous people.

The two nations say this process goes against the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which the province adopted in 2019. The declaration requires governments to obtain free, prior and informed consent before taking actions that affect Indigenous peoples and territories.

In the current system, by the time the nation finds out mineral rights have been granted, the process has often moved on to permitting and exploring, Gitxaała Nation Chief Coun. Linda Innes says.

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