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Gitxaala Thanks Tsilhqot'in and Calls on Crown to Live Up to Its Own Laws

KITKATLA, BRITISH COLUMBIA -- (Marketwired) -- 06/26/14 -- Gitxaala extends its thanks to the Tsilhqot'in for bringing the important issue of aboriginal rights and title to the forefront and gaining a significant victory for aboriginal people - especially for nations such as ours who have not ceded their aboriginal title.

In its decision today, the Supreme Court of Canada has made it clear that aboriginal title is very much like private property rights - at its core it is the right to decide what use is made of our land and waters.

The case for aboriginal rights and title has been clearly established and, particularly in British Columbia, it's time to begin a reconciliation process with First Nations.

"A court room is not where reconciliation should begin," said Clarence Innis, Acting Chief of the Gitxaala First Nation. "It is time for Canada to live up to its own laws and consult with First Nations rather than force First Nations to go to court to compel Canada to meet its constitutional duty."

Gitxaala saw this in the Federal Cabinet decision on the Enbridge Northern Pipeline proposal. Canada ignored the requirement for meaningful consultation as called for under section 35 of the Canadian Constitution. As a result Gitxaala, along with other First Nations, is forced to launch legal action to protect our rights.

The Supreme Court of Canada has recognized, in a number of rulings, the duty to consult and accommodate First Nations. Those decisions have found that consultation and accommodation are constitutional obligations that must take place before important decisions affecting First Nations are made. To ensure that government actions, such as permitting an oil pipeline, terminal project or oil tanker route, do not contravene constitutional requirements, the Crown must also consult meaningfully and at an early stage.

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