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Seven-in-ten British Columbians agree Indigenous consent should be obtained prior to mineral claim staking

Press Release

April 20, 2023

New public opinion polling reveals support for the issue raised by Gitxaała Nation’s landmark legal challenge

New public opinion polling reveals that 72% of British Columbians believe that the provincial government should be required to seek consent from First Nations and private landowners before issuing mining claims. This is not currently the case under the Mineral Tenure Act and is the subject of Gitxaała Nation’s landmark legal challenge currently being heard by the B.C. Supreme Court.

Gitxaała’s case argues that B.C.’s outdated practice of granting mineral claims without Indigenous consultation or consent is inconsistent with constitutional requirements as well as the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), which B.C. has legally committed to implement with the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act.

These polling results show there is public support for changing this colonial era law that is not in line with modern values. It’s time for B.C. to get rid of its ‘free entry’ system for mineral exploration and its automated system for granting mineral rights, and instead put Indigenous rights and respect for land use plans, including conservation, first.
–   Nikki Skuce, Director of the Northern Confluence Initiative and Co-Chair of the BC Mining Law Reform network

Hearings in the Gitxaała Nation’s legal challenge began on April 3 and will continue on April 20-21 and May 3-5. Members of the BC Mining Law Reform network are intervening in the case, arguing that the responsibility to consult is reflected in industry best practices and updates to mining laws in other jurisdictions. The court’s decision is expected at a later date.

The polling also found that 72% of British Columbians support a mandate for the provincial government to create new protected areas with Indigenous peoples, which would reduce the area available for mining and forestry. This level of support for conservation is consistent with polling results obtained in previous years.
About the Survey

Results are based on an online study commissioned by the Northern Confluence Initiative – MakeWay Charitable Society from April 10 to 13, 2023 among a provincially representative sample of 800 British Columbians (18+), balanced and weighted on age, gender, region, and education. For comparison purposes only, a sample of this size would yield a margin of error of +/- 3.5 percentage points at a 95% confidence level.


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