LADYSMITH, BC, May 25, 2011 /CNW/ - First Nations from throughout
Vancouver Island within the E&N Railway Grant area have united in
protest against the takeover of forest giant TimberWest.
A declaration opposing the sale of the company to Canada and BC public
service pension funds, or any other buyer, has been agreed to by
leaders of nations whose traditional territory includes more than
113,000 hectares of TimberWest lands that were part of the 2 million
acre E&N Railway land grant of 1883.
The declaration followed a meeting in Ladysmith on May 19 at which
leaders came out to add their voices and support the Hul'qumi'num
Treaty Group in opposition to the proposed sale. HTG gained the
attention of the world's financial markets a week earlier when it
announced its opposition to the $1 billion sale.
Within hours of HTG filing a Precautionary Measures request with the
Inter-American Human Rights Commission (IACHR), TimberWest shares
tumbled in value on the Toronto Stock Exchange. The IACHR is an
independent body of human rights experts, within the Organization of
American States, of which Canada is a member. The filing was part of
HTG's larger human rights complaint against Canada.
"We were very heartened by the support we received from other nations,
both on and off Vancouver Island," said Robert Morales, the chief
negotiator of HTG. Other Island leaders see that our fight is also
theirs. We are all opposed to the large-scale sale and resource
extraction on private lands in our traditional territories.
"These lands have never been surrendered or ceded, yet others have
benefited from land sales such as this for 150 years. Our interests in
these lands continue, even as they are being clear-cut of timber and
subdivided for development."
The E&N Declaration states the signers' objection to the lack of
consultation and accommodation when decisions are made about lands such
as those controlled by TimberWest. In doing so, the Declaration laid
down a legal and moral challenge not only to federal and provincial
governments, but also to business and industry.
"Governments and corporate entities have an obligation under both
Canadian and international law to honour our rights," Morales said.
"The Declaration calls on all of them to fulfill that obligation."
He said the HTG campaign has resonated far outside the boundaries of
Vancouver Island and BC.
"When we first filed our original petition with IACHR in 2007, First
Nations across Canada immediately understood our position: that
government, federal and provincial, and local, has been ignoring our
steadfast opposition to what is happening in our traditional
territories. That refusal to consult with us is what makes it a human
"Now the corporate world realizes that such issues can seriously impact
their bottom line," Morales said. "After HTG sent out its media
announcement last week, we have been receiving calls from financial
centres in many locations.
"Investors in resource companies like TimberWest are worried. When
investors are worried, governments get worried. It means we have their
Chief Negotiator Rod Naknakim of the Laich-kwil-tach Treaty Society says
"our Chiefs have instructed me to explore legal remedies such as filing
an application for an injunction regarding the proposed sale by
TimberWest in the BC Supreme Court.
Chief Douglas White III of the Snuneymuxw First Nation and a member of
BC's First Nations Summit Executive stated "Approximately 20,000 ha of
TimberWest lands are at the core of Snuneymuxw territory in the Nanaimo
River watershed. The alienation of these lands, as part of the E&N Land
Grant, represents a fundamental breach of the Snuneymuxw Douglas Treaty
of 1854. We have written to both TimberWest and the Pension
corporations to put them on notice of this dark cloud on the title to
this land. Snuneymuxw stands with our relations in opposition to the
proposed sale. We will be raising this matter on the Summit agenda when
First Nations from across British Columbia convene in Vancouver in
"There is no question about this," Chief Richard Thomas of Lyackson
First Nation and HTG's president said. "We will not continue to have
our fundamental human rights and our aboriginal rights ignored by
government and corporate interests. He said direct action will continue
before TimberWest shareholders gather in Vancouver, B.C. to vote on the
proposed sale on June 14."
We the VANCOUVER ISLAND FIRST NATIONS WITHIN THE E&N LAND GRANT AREA
being sovereign Nations and the rightful, legal occupants with
Aboriginal Title and Rights, Douglas Treaty Rights, and Indigenous
Human Rights to our territories as given us by our Creator do hereby
Whereas the government of BC granted 2 million acres of land to the
government of Canada in the late 1800's and the government of Canada
subsequently unlawfully granted these lands to James Dunsmuir of the
Esquimalt and Nanaimo Railway in "private" fee simple ownership (E&N
Land Grant) and these lands have passed from one corporate entity to
another since then.
And whereas the E&N Land Grant was a violation of our Aboriginal Title
and Rights in our ancestral lands and a fundamental breach of Douglas
Treaty rights and Crown obligations arising from Douglas Treaties.
And whereas our First Nations were never informed, consulted or offered
any restitution for any of these actions.
And whereas the government of Canada continues to refuse to offer any
form of restitution resulting from their actions.
And whereas our First Nations continue to be refused any form of
consultation, consent, environmental impact assessments or benefit
sharing with respect to any decisions being made on these "private"
And whereas this unlawful granting of our Traditional territories has
had a devastating effect on our communities that have depended on and
continue to depend on access to our land to carry on our traditional
subsistence, religious and other cultural practices and this
privatization, has facilitated the destruction of our special
relationship to our invaluable forest lands.
And whereas as a result of the Crown's inability to effectively regulate
these private forest lands, intense clear-cut logging has resulted in
the deforestation of these lands with only a very small percentage of
original old growth forest left. This privatization has also severely
impacted essential water supplies, traditional medicinal plants, and
fishery and wildlife populations.
WE THERFORE DECLARE THAT:
We never surrendered or ceded our traditional territories and we
therefore object to decisions being made on these "private" lands without our
consultation and accommodation and where necessary our consent.
Canada, BC and corporate entities have an obligation under domestic and
international law to honour our right to be consulted about decisions
being made on these "private" lands and we call upon them to fulfil
this obligation now and into the future.
We collectively object to the current proposed sale of the TimberWest
stapled units which includes these "private" lands, within our
traditional territories to the Canada and BC pension funds and any
other potential buyer without prior consultation with our nations.
SOURCE Hul'qumi'num Treaty Group
For further information:
Robert Morales, HTG Chief Negotiator, (mobile 250-710-2241, email@example.com)