British Columbia’s long-standing system for awarding mining rights is being challenged at B.C. Supreme Court this week in a judicial review that will test the strength of the province’s Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act.
Two cases being heard together, brought by the Gitxaała and the Ehattesaht First Nations, argue that mining claims awarded under the Mineral Tenure Act violated the provincial government’s legal obligation to seek “free, prior and informed consent” before allowing development within the traditional territories of Indigenous peoples.
“We are in court this week to ensure that Gitxaała law is respected and so that future generations of Gitxaała may continue to benefit from our land, water and resources,” Linda Innes, Gitxaała chief councillor, said Tuesday.
When B.C.’s legislators unanimously passed DRIPA into law in 2019, the government committed to launch a sweeping review of provincial laws to protect the human rights of Indigenous people.That reform has moved slowly and in the meantime, the province continues to approve thousands of new mineral stakes every year through a “free entry” mineral claim staking process that is designed to encourage mineral exploration across much of the province.
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