A legal challenge to prevent more mining claims and revoke already issued claims on territory on Banks Island, has been filed in the B.C. Supreme Court by the Gitxaała Nation (Kitkatla).
Elected chief councillor of the Gitxaała Nation Linda Innes announced the legal case at a news conference Tuesday (Oct. 26) “against the B.C. government’s free entry and mineral staking regime.”
The case is the first of its kind in B.C., seeking to overturn multiple mineral claims granted by the province between 2018 and 2020 on Banks Island, which is in the heart of Gitxaała territory, on the north coast of B.C.
The lawsuit names the B.C. government, as well as GMR Global Mineral Resources Corporation.
The Nation alleges these claims were made without consent, consultation, or even notification to the Gitxaała, impeding on the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People.
Innes said in a statement Tuesday that for too long, anyone with a computer and $34 has been able to acquire rights to the traditional territory. There are currently more than 41 claims for mining rights on Banks Island.
While the legal claim is not directly about Banks Island, the action leads to the root of the Mineral Tenure Act and the way claims are granted. Innes said if the Nation is to win, it could be a measure to prevent future claims.
The Nation has repeatedly called on the B.C. government for an end to the mining activities on Banks Island but the government still grants mineral claims with “total disregard for Indigenous Nations.”
“Today, I stand here … to tell the government of British Columbia that the free entry mineral claims staking needs to change, and that under their own laws, they have the obligation to set aside all existing mineral claims that are part of the court proceeding and to suspend claim staking in Gitxaała territory until they can fulfill their commitments to both their own constitutional duties and the promises made by their commitment to reconciliation and the declaration of Indigenous people,” Innes said.
Black Press Media has reached out to the B.C. government and Global Mineral Resources for comment.
K-J Millar | Journalist
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