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B.C. tables legislation to recognize ‘historic’ title of Haida Nation

Legislation translates ‘Rising Tide’ Haida Title Lands Agreement into provincial law
Premier David Eby, Haida Nation Council President Gaagwiis (Jason Alsop), Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation Murray Rankin and Haida Nation Council Vice-President Stephen Grosse (not pictured) signed the “Gaayhllxid/Gíihlagalgang ‘Rising Tide’ Haida Title Lands Agreement” in Haida Gwaii on April 14, 2024. On April 22, Rankin tabled legislation that would translate the agreement into provincial law.(Government of B.C./YouTube)

An historic agreement between B.C. and Haida Nation is one step closer to becoming law in British Columbia.

Haida Nation Council President Gaagwiis (Jason Alsop) said legislation tabled Monday (April 22) recognizes and honours the “truth” of Haida history, his people’s relationship with Haida Gwaii and the history of British Columbia with Haida Gwaii.

“This act and this work is an acknowledgement of the past denials and the harms and fully embracing this truth we all know,” he said during a speech, whose conclusion drew a standing ovation. “Haida Gwaii is Haida Land, has always and will always be, that we have never ceded, surrendered or in any way given up our title to the land.”

Gaagwiis said it will take time to undo the legacies of colonialism, but noted the agreement will help benefit all parties involved. Gaagwiis also drew a link to Earth Day.

“Together, we face a climate crisis and we can only tackle this crisis working together,” he said. “Now, more than ever, our concerns and priorities are more aligned.”

He made these comments after Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation Minister Murray Rankin tabled the Haida Nation Recognition Amendment Act Monday (April 22) in the provincial legislature as members and leaders of the First Nation watched.

RELATED: B.C. signs agreement recognizing Haida Nation’s title over Haida Gwaii

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“Haida Aboriginal title to Haida Gwaii is clear,” Rankin said. “It’s past time for the province to recognize that indisputable fact.

The tabling of the legislation comes eight days after Haida Nation and B.C. government had signed the Gaayhllxid/Gíihlagalgang “Rising Tide” Haida Title Lands Agreement.The agreement affecting 98 per cent of Haida Gwaii recognizes the nation’s right to make decisions around the treatment and use of the island’s Crown land and resources. It does not apply to private lands, local governments, public infrastructure or existing land and resource interests.

Rankin said the agreement includes what he called an “orderly and incremental path” to implementation and paves the path for the federal government to make a similar recognition.

Premier David Eby called the agreement and subsequent legislation historic because it ends a history of court battles, while recognizing the historic claims of the Haida Nation since time immemorial.

“It just the beginning of the partnership that we are undertaking with the Haida People to move forward in a different way,” Eby said.

“This agreement will raise all boats,” Eby said. He also predicted a broader effect. “I know this will be an inspiration to Indigenous people around the world.”

Wolf Depner

About the Author: Wolf Depner

I joined the national team with Black Press Media in 2023 from the Peninsula News Review, where I had reported on Vancouver Island's Saanich Peninsula since 2019.
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