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Historic B.C. legislation introduced recognizing Haida Aboriginal title

April 22, 2024 at 2:45 pm  BC, News, Politics, Provincial

Puglaas, Jody Wilson-Raybould, PC, OBC, KC, author; former attorney general of Canada

“The recognition and implementation of First Nations title to their territories is central and essential to building our shared, just, stable and prosperous future in British Columbia. I hold my hands up to the Haida for once again helping to lead the way. I also encourage and look forward to seeing British Columbia, and Canada, take further steps in transforming laws, policies and practices that will see the acceleration of agreements that recognize and implement the title and rights of First Nations across British Columbia.”

Miles Richardson, chair and director, National Consortium for Indigenous Economic Development, University of Victoria; past president of the Council of the Haida Nation

“After over 200 years of denying the obvious, B.C. is recognizing continuing inherent Haida Title to the lands of Haida Gwaii. Also, for the first time, the Haida Nation is formally recognizing and accepting other residents of Haida Gwaii as valued neighbours. Let’s celebrate, then get on with the important work of building a future together based on mutual recognition and respect while protecting this wonderful place we call home.”

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, president, Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs

“Congratulations to the Haida Nation and the Province of B.C. for their incredible, visionary leadership in recognition of Aboriginal title. The introduction of today’s legislation is an absolute game-changer. The Crown has finally realized that we need to work together, and that we are truly all here to stay. The Gaayhllxid • Gíihlagalgang ‘Rising Tide’ Haida Title Lands Agreement and related legislation demonstrate that recognition of Aboriginal title creates certainty, and is a tangible goal for all First Nations in B.C. This legislation shows that the treaty model is not the only path for reconciliation in the province.”

Cheryl Casimer, First Nations Summit political executive

“The significance of the Gaayhllxid • Gíihlagalgang Rising Tide’ Haida Title Lands Agreement, and the accompanying legislation to implement it, cannot be understated as it represents the first time in Canadian history that the inherent and Aboriginal title of a First Nation to every square inch of its territory has been recognized by a public government. We commend the Haida Nation and the Government of B.C. for concluding this historic agreement and legislation. We are greatly encouraged by the recognition provided for in the agreement and the draft legislation, which will significantly level the playing field in future negotiations between the Haida Nation and B.C. to reconcile their respective jurisdictions over Haida Gwaii. We hope to see this new approach to recognition and reconciliation replicated throughout the B.C. treaty negotiations framework.”

Regional Chief Terry Teegee, BC Assembly of First Nations

“Congratulations to the people of the Haida Nation and the Province of British Columbia as this historically significant legislation recognizing Aboriginal title is brought forward into the B.C. legislature. This commitment to truth and reconciliation not only acknowledges past injustices, but also lays the groundwork for future negotiations that will promote mutually beneficial relationships between sovereign Nations, paving the way for respectful dialogues and equitable outcomes.”

Khelsilem, Council Chairperson, Squamish Nation Council  

“I commend the Haida Nation for their centuries-long perseverance, culminating in the affirmation and implementation of their Indigenous Peoples’ title. Their journey, like a tiny sapling to a flourishing old-growth forest, symbolizes the transformative power of the change they’ve been working toward for generations. This achievement sets an important milestone in advancement of positive relations between B.C. and Indigenous Peoples, lighting a pathway for all in the struggle for the full recognition of Indigenous Peoples’ title and rights.”

Steven Point, UBC chancellor and former B.C. lieutenant-governor

“I am very honored to be asked to comment on this historic moment in Haida and B.C. history. Land claims can only proceed if we can come the table with reconciliation and truth as our guiding principles. The Haida are now leading the way to resolving this long outstanding issue among B.C. First Nations. I am grateful for their hard work and leadership.”

David Suzuki, award-winning scientist, environmentalist and broadcaster

“It is fitting that this historic occasion happens on Earth Day. The recognition of the Haida Nation’s title represents a fundamental shift in our relationship with the Earth and provides a model for how we can restore a balance between people and place. The Haida know the proper balance – they have been connected to these lands for thousands of years. Humanity has created a global crisis of the twin issues of climate change and species extinction and we need a new relationship with the planet that Indigenous people all over the world understand. As a settler in B.C., I am grateful to the Haida for hanging on to their culture that defines their place and their relationship to it, and I congratulate the government for taking this much needed step. This is the right way forward – for Indigenous Peoples, and for Mother Earth.”

John Borrows, Loveland chair in Indigenous Law, University of Toronto Law School

“The Rising Tide Title Agreement is a tribute to Haida strength, creativity and resilience. It highlights the importance of democratic deliberation, persuasion and participation. The agreement demonstrates that First Nations and provincial laws can be harmonized through mutual recognition, respect and reconciliation.”

Mike Harcourt, OC, former B.C. premier

“The key to the future has and continues to lie in First Nations and British Columbia building the new relationship by planning together, recognizing jurisdiction and sharing expertise. The ‘Rising Tide’ Haida Lands Title Agreement shows what can be done when the parties work with good faith and respect. The Haida Nation and B.C. have together embraced an incremental approach where they can resolve issues chapter by chapter, allowing progress without awaiting the conclusion of exhaustive and costly litigation.”

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