Friday, March 6, 2009

The New Relationship in BC - The Next Step

I for one have to say that I was not all prepared for the BC Government to come out and offer to pass a law that will recognize aboriginal title and rights in BC. The Liberals are proposing to recognize First Nation governments, their right to the lands, and their right to a share in the revenues from the resources.

The TC has an article about this.

This is a monumental change, a change so fundamental in the relationship with aboriginal people that there is precedence anywhere else.

Gordon Campbell is the first Premier of BC that has decided to treat the First Nations with the respect they are due and is willing to sit down with them in real partnership.

This law will give aboriginal people real and concrete property rights through out the province. It will mean that the resource wealth of this province will be extracted only in complete partnership with First Nation governments.

Havign been on the aboriginal side of the table and having had to deal with government people that would not talk about the fundamental issue at hand - who owns the land and who gets to make decisions. Provincial and Federal governments of all stripes before the BC Liberals have always done everything they could to deny the existence of aboriginal people having continuity as self governing societies.

As an example, the Cultural Heritage Act states that every archeological artifact in the ground from before 1846 belongs to the Crown. These are specifically all the things that were here before there was any 'white' government.

First Nations have asked for generations "By what right do you claim to own the land?" "When did we agree to be disposed?". BC and Canada have avoided this question for generations, at one point going so far to ban lawyers for acting for First Nations on the issue. The Crown clearly has agreed it did not conquer the First Nations and could only gain control of the land if a Treaty has been signed. In BC this was not done and the "Indian Question" has remained in limbo.

The Williams case pushed the legal envelop a long way. The Xeni Gwichin had title to the land.

It takes huge courage for the provincial government to come forward and agree they will recognize First Nation governments and their title to the land.

I want to see this bill and see how it plays out. I am curious how the NDP will react to the proposed bill. I know that when I worked for First Nations and the NDP was in power, they were anything but friendly when it came to aboriginal title and rights issues.

I know many people in the right may be very concerned or upset by this, but I see this as the strongest blow for property rights in a long time in Canada. I also like the breaches it brings to the monolithic power of the Crown.

I like the Nisga'a Treaty because it gives a third level of government constitutional standing. It is the First Nations that are fighting for all of us to reduce the all encompassing power of the Crown.


Anonymous said...

Campbell does not care for First Nations, as he doesn't care for the people of this province. he is only interested in making money for his friends. Check out G.West's and J Jones comments at this site.

Bernard said...

He has gone further to meet the First Nations than anyone has ever before in Canada.

I am not sure what to call the most pro First Nation political leader in Canada, but that man is Gordon Campbell

Anonymous said...

Bernard von Schulmann said...
He has gone further to meet the First Nations than anyone has ever before in Canada.

Here is a bit more from The Tyee.

The Scam of the Century

Janie Jones said,
Also bye bye to (according to a legal notice that appeared in the Jan23/09 edition of the Squamish Chief newspaper) "the air space of our mother-earth, surface and sub-surface salt and fresh water, stewardship of all marine life, sea plants, precious metals, precious stones, unrefined-oil, mountains, islands, inlets, creeks, streams, lakes, channels, hot springs, tributaries, estuaries, all raw-resources-surface & subsurface, heavy oil, tar sands, all grades of gravel, all gas, timber, herbs, plants, under story plants, roots, surface and sub-surface water, raw minerals, diamonds, gold, silver, copper, cattle, pot-ash, cattle-range, sheep-range, buffalo range, horse-range, traditional-foods and any and all unmentioned renewable and non-resources."

Anything left out is covered in the unmentioned category.

Anonymous said...

haha, who cares about some kooky posters at the nutty left-wing site Tyee.

First Nations chiefs have already agreed to the government's proposal. That's what counts.

Glass said...

Tyee is a discredited rag.

Why should I follow your link when it is a discredited organization?

Anonymous said...

The NDP has always counted on the First Nations vote as part of their constituency. In fact, the First Nations vote leans heavily toward the NDP, sometimes 10-1 in some ridings.

But the NDP seems to be alienating the First Nations vote, the first time that I've ever seen same.

Just this week two stories:

1."North Island NDP MLA Claire Trevena was blasted by two First Nations chiefs this week over comments she made in the Legislature against Plutonic Power's Bute Inlet power project."

2. "Native leader, MLA at odds over 'noise'"

If the NDP keeps it up, they will lose the First Nations vote in tight ridings that they currently hold such as North Island and Skeena.

Glass said...

The NDP applies the "racism of lower expectations" to the First Nations, and thus denigrates and insults them, just so the NDP can get a free ride (at least they think they can) on the back of the bleeding hearts.

First Nations are past the point where they would take such putdowns passively. They are actively trying to improve their community, despite NDP's efforts to maintain perpetual victim status. Racism is racism, no matter what form it is perpetrated.

Glass said...

Now with all the Kool-aid drinking aside, it shudders for me to think that there will be yet another level of government with its own laws and regulations that we will have to deal with.

How is this going to improve upon the mess that we are in? Why is this more streamlined than a treaty?

Anonymous said...

You say that in the "Cultural Heritage Act" (I assume you mean the Heritage Conservation Act) the province claims to own all of the ancient archaeological artefacts that are found here. No it doesn't. In fact, BC is one of the few provinces or countries that does not claim to own archaeological artefacts.

Provincial archaeological excavation permits require the archaeologists to turn over all material they find (after lab work) to a repository identified in the permit. The repository is identified after consultation about the proposed permit with the relevant first nations. Almost always, if a first nation has a museum with storage capacity and wants the artefacts they will get possession of them. However, this is not a determination of ownership -- just possession unless/until someone (including a first nation, the property owner, or the archaeologist) launches an ownership claim through the courts. The provincial Crown would have no basis for an ownership claim in such a proceeding.

If anyone is interested in learning more about the legal basis for aboriginal claims to ownership of ancient artefacts I suggest that they check out the research and analysis that has been done by Dr. Catherine Bell, a law professor with the University of Alberta.

I appreciate that this has little to do with the main point of your blog entry, but you wouldn't want your perspective to be shaped by incorrect information.

Bernard said...

So it seems the government changed the act a couple of years back. Yes, I had the title wrong and backwards of the Act.

I have not worked on projects in the last four years that have required me to up on the HCA.

The Act did previously use a definition with 1846 as the date before which everything in the ground was protected but also property of the Crown. I dealt with this when I was working with First Nations and pointed out the stupidity of how the act was set up. I am trying to find an online copy of the earlier act.

Or I have really bad Alzheimers going on I have confused many things, but that does not seem likely.

In 1998 or 1999 there were some cases brought forward by Woodward and Co on behalf of Kitkatla, they sought ownership of archeological remains but lost that case.

I am familiar with the work of Catherine Bell.

Bernard said...

Best I could come up with vis a vis the former HCA wording