Environmental organizations apply to intervene in Gitxaała Nation’s legal case against unwanted mining

An outcropping of land with pine trees sits in the coastal waters on Gitxaała territory with a ridge of mountains in the background. Photo by Paulina Otylia Niechel.
December 15, 2022

The BC Mining Law Reform network and several of our member organizations have applied for intervenor status in the Gitxaała Nation’s groundbreaking legal case against the free-entry mineral claim staking process. 

We’re in court on December 15 and 16 to argue for our right to speak to public interest issues surrounding the Mineral Tenure Act.

“The Mineral Tenure Act is outdated legislation—a hold over from the Gold Rush era. While the B.C. government has promised to update the law, it has taken little action and continues to strenuously oppose litigation by First Nations standing up for their rights. Gitxaała’s case is aimed at forcing the government to resolve this situation.” 

Jamie Kneen, Co-Chair of the BC Mining Law Reform network and National Program Co-Lead with MiningWatch Canada

In the coming weeks, the Court will decide whether we will be allowed to make arguments during the legal proceedings, which are expected to be heard in April 2023.

“We support the Gitxaała leadership in standing up for their right to consent to any projects on their territory. Not only is the Mineral Tenure Act inconsistent with Indigenous rights, it also disregards private property rights and other land uses, including conservation.”

Nikki Skuce, Co-Chair of the BC Mining Law Reform network and Director of Northern Confluence Initiative

Other members of the intervenor coalition include:

“Indigenous rights and conservation are interdependent. The Mineral Tenure Act allows for automatic approval of exploration claims, including in sensitive watersheds, valuable ecological areas, and First Nations’ territories, without any prior consideration of the potential negative impacts on the environment or community. This cannot continue.”

Greg Knox, Executive Director of SkeenaWild Conservation Trust

“Our group came together around air quality concerns where one of the greatest threats was the Ajax mine being proposed within the city limits of Kamloops without any concern for city planning, private property, environmental impacts, or the rights of the Stk’emlúpsemc te Secwepemc Nation. The assessment process swallowed seven years of our energy as we ensured that our land, water, air and our children’s health were protected. We don’t want any community to go through what we did.” 

Gina Morris, spokesperson for Kamloops Moms for Clean Air

“The Mineral Tenure Act has infringed on the rights of many First Nations. We’ve also seen this with the Tŝilhqot’in’s fight against two mining projects on their unceded territories that culminated in a landmark Aboriginal Title case in the Supreme Court of Canada. How many times does this have to happen before B.C. finally updates the Act to support national reconciliation?” 

Wyatt Petryshen, Mining Policy and Impacts Researcher for Wildsight

Read our press release

Read the Gitxaała Nation’s press release