Follow Us! Like Our Page!

The Haida Get Their Land Back – The Tyee

By affirming Indigenous land ownership, BC and the Haida Nation are signalling a new era for Indigenous relations.

Twenty years ago, Geoff Plant, then the Liberal attorney general of B.C., made an offer to the Haida Nation. Many West Coast First Nations, including the Haida, had never signed treaties with the Canadian government ceding their traditional lands or resources, and Plant was trying to revive the faltering process of treaty making. He wanted to smooth over relations with Indigenous Peoples, but he also wanted to help the province extract more resources from Indigenous lands. To entice the Haida — a nation known throughout Canada for its political savviness and resolve — he had what he thought was a bold bargaining chip.

Like many other officials, Plant viewed the B.C. government as the clear landlord of provincial lands, including those of the Haida Gwaii archipelago — 10,000 square kilometres of forested islands located roughly 650 kilometres northwest of Vancouver, and the Haida’s home for at least the past 13,000 years.

So here was Plant’s pitch: the B.C. government would give the Haida control of 20 per cent of their lands, but that would require the nation dropping a title case it had recently filed with the B.C. Supreme Court. “Title” refers to the inherent right to own and manage Indigenous territories based on traditional use and occupation. The Haida maintained that their territory included all of the land area in the archipelago, as well as the surrounding airspace, seabed and marine waters.

Read More:


NationTalk Partners & Sponsors Learn More