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Tsilhqot’in Area Lodge Owner Issues Warning to Private Property Owners on Haida Gwaii

Press Release

June 06, 2024

William Lake, British Columbia– The owner of a privately owned lodge that is surrounded by declared aboriginal titled lands in central BC is issuing a warning to property owners on Haida Gwaii, following BC’s recent agreement with the Haida Nation to acknowledge aboriginal title there.

“Let there be no mistake – you cannot trust government to protect your interests in the so called two-year ‘transition period’,” said Karen McLean, owner of Ts’yl-os Lodge. “We were given similar assurances nearly 10 years ago – and to this day all we see is confusion, timidness and secrecy on the part of the BC government.”

Ts’yl-os Lodge is a strong supporter of Indigenous rights and supports the aspirations of the Haida people. Ms. McLean herself intervened in support of the Tsilhqot’in Nation in its historic aboriginal title case, where the Supreme Court of Canada declared aboriginal title to exist for the first time in Canadian history.

“While I have strongly supported aboriginal title, I feel I have been completely abandoned by a provincial government that does not know what to do once it’s established,” said McLean. “And I don’t know why property owners on Haida Gwaii should believe it will be any different for them.”

In the Tsilhqot’in decision, private lands were excluded from the aboriginal title area. But the use and value of private lands is heavily affected by how the surrounding lands are managed – especially through Land Act tenures. “Maintaining fee simple ‘ownership’ is not very comforting if the land is in a sea of governmental uncertainty,” said McLean.

Ts’yl-os Lodge strongly encourages other private property owners affected by aboriginal title to speak up and advance a vision of reconciliation that leaves no one behind. “It is essential all British Columbians understand how ill-equipped the government is to manage the situation once aboriginal title is established,” said McLean. “Everyone – even those in the cities – should be worried because Premier David Eby has called the Haida agreement a “template” for other parts of BC.”

In 2023 McLean and Ts’yl-os Lodge initiated a legal claim against the province alleging, among other things, that the “Province misstated the protections that would be put in place to protect the plaintiffs’ legal interests and operations” after the Tsilhqot’in aboriginal title declaration. That case is working its way through the court system.

Ms. McLean has also today written local governments on Haida Gwaii, offering to attend open council meetings to publicly discuss her experiences with government’s handling of these issues. A copy of that letter is attached.

Contact:
Karen McLean
karen@tsylos.com

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