Thursday, March 05, 2009
B.C. moves to recognize First Nations rights The Canadian Press March 5, 2009 at 3:44 PM EST VICTORIA — The B.C. government is ready to introduce and pass legislation this spring that will fundamentally change the legal rights and status of First Nations in British Columbia. Aboriginal Relations Minister Mike de Jong told a gathering of native leaders that they will no longer have to turn to the courts to prove title over their lands. The proposed legislation would recognize aboriginal rights and title and would outline the terms for making decisions over lands and resources. The province's decades-long treaty-making process has resulted in few settlements. Unlike other provinces, B.C. never signed treaties with aboriginal bands and the province is now subject to hundreds of outstanding native land claims, which led to conflict and lawsuits over land use. The B.C. government, which faces a provincial election in May, says it has a strong aboriginal agenda for a third term in office.