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One year later
Letter to Ministers

ARC BC: Action guide re: Delgamuukw and Interim Agreements

April 21,1999

Whereas the Aboriginal Rights Coalition ( ARC ) is a coalition of church groups, aboriginal peoples, and local organizations, and

Whereas ARC, not only through an appeal to reason and empirical fact, but also through religious, spiritual , and moral insight, seeks to remedy the wrongs and injustices inflicted upon First Nations peoples, and

Whereas ARC has worked in solidarity with aboriginal peoples to secure justice in Canada for over twenty years; and

Whereas ARC (BC) is a local organization made up of diverse individuals and community groups; and

Whereas ARC (BC) has spent many years in public education, assisting non aboriginal peoples to better understand the history of aboriginal title to land and the related legal, social and justice issues; and

Whereas, in the interests of morality, legality and fairness, it is important that governments live up to their legal commitments in honoring aboriginal title within the Treaty Process and in other contexts; and

Whereas Canadian law as set out in Delgamuukw throws new light on the nature of aboriginal title including First Nations title to their traditional territories and resources within those territories; and

Whereas the federal and provincial governments have from time to time granted licenses, leases and other rights to third parties for the use and exploitation of First Nations traditional territories in seeming reckless disregard of the fiduciary duty to protect First Nations title and rights; and

Whereas the same governments in the same manner have unilaterally dedicated various traditional territories for use as parks and other public purposes without adequate consultation and without the consent of affected First Nations; and

Whereas negotiated settlements with First Nations are not yet completed with respect to land title and rights of governance in relation to their traditional territories; and

Whereas some traditional territories have already been disposed of and are beyond recovery for First Nations and, as a result, alternative lands will need to be offered to the First Nations so affected in lieu of lost territories;

Therefore, the Aboriginal Rights Coalition of British Columbia,following its understanding of the Delgamuukw decision, adopts the following interim guides as an aid in assessing the sufficiency of governmental actions in relation to aboriginal title and rights :

  1. No granting of further licenses, leases, or other alienations of traditional territories until interim agreements are negotiated with respect to the territories and any third party interest in such lands.
  2. Any such negotiations provide for joint management and revenue sharing with the affected First Nations.
  3. The federal and provincial governments cease any further setting aside of Crown lands for parks or any other public purposes without first giving due notice to the affected First Nations and consulting with them fully on the proposed disposal.
  4. In addition to the funding for First Nations research within the Treaty Process, the federal Crown, as an aspect of the duty to consult, make additional, sufficient resources available to First Nations whose lands may be affected by a proposed disposition for a public purpose, such as parks, in order that the First Nation concerned may make an informed and timely response without sacrificing resources needed for treaty negotiation.

ARC (BC) recognizes that these guides to action need to be carefully assessed and comlpemented by further guides respecting a post-Delgamuukw understanding of "consultation" and "good faith bargaining".