BC Assembly of First Nations Regional Chief A-in-chut (Shawn Atleo) says federal and provincial treaty mandates must change in light of Xeni Gwet'in Decision

    WEST VANCOUVER, BC, Nov. 21 /CNW/ - In a landmark decision, the BC
Supreme Court today offered its opinion that Tsilhqot'in Aboriginal title
exists inside and outside the Claim Area. The Claim Area consists of 470,000
hectares of land in the Cariboo-Chilcotin region of British Columbia known as
the Trapline Territory and Brittany Triangle.
    "Denial of Aboriginal title and rights has been a major stumbling block
to progress in treaty negotiations in British Columbia," said Regional Chief
Atleo. In his judgment, Mr. Justice Vickers criticized the "impoverished view
of Aboriginal title advanced by Canada and British Columbia" and added that
this approach "cannot be allowed to pervade and inhibit genuine negotiations."
    Mr. Justice Vickers has deferred the issue from the legal arena back to
the political arena. "This decision provides us with an enormous opportunity
and an even greater responsibility to get it right" said Regional Chief Atleo.
"I look forward to working together with Canada and British Columbia in the
months ahead to discuss adjustments to federal and provincial policies and
treaty mandates that will be required to pave the way for a just and
honourable reconciliation of Aboriginal and Crown titles in British Columbia."
    Mr. Justice Vickers of the BC Supreme Court also ruled that the BC Forest
Act does not apply where Aboriginal title exists and strongly encouraged the
provincial government to work in close consultation with the Tsilhqot'in
people to develop a new model of sustainable forest management in the Claim
    "As a result of today's ruling, it can no longer be business as usual in
British Columbia. This decision effectively calls on the provincial government
to take Aboriginal title seriously. First Nations must now be involved in a
meaningful way in the management of lands and resources within our traditional
territories" said Regional Chief Atleo.
    "I commend the Xeni Gwet'in and The Tsilhqot'in First Nations for their
perseverance in undertaking such a monumental task," added the Regional Chief,
"Their efforts have strengthened the position of all BC First Nations in
pursuit of recognition and reconciliation of Aboriginal Title and Rights."
    BC Regional Chief A-in-chut is elected by and accountable to the 203
First Nations in British Columbia.

For further information:

For further information: Ryneld Starr, Communications Officer, BC
Assembly of First Nations, Office: (604) 922-7733, Cell: (604) 837-6908,
E-mail: communication@bcafn.ca

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