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Minister delegating legal obligation, say chiefs

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Compiled by Debora Steel







On Nov. 23, the Gitanyow hereditary chiefs, on behalf of all Gitanyow, filed an application for a court order to require Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Steve Thomson to comply with his obligations under provincial legislation to manage wildlife in the Nass area of British Columbia in Gamlaxyeltxw v. Minister of FLNRO

Under the Nisga’a Final Agreement Act, which ratified the Nisga’a treaty, every year the Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations must set the total allowable moose harvest for that year for the Nass area. The Minister does so after receiving recommendations from a joint BC-Nisga’a committee established by the Nisga’a Final Agreement of 2000, reads a press release.

“Our information is that the minister has not set the total allowable moose harvest for several years,” said Glen Williams, chief negotiator for the Gitanyow hereditary chiefs “He’s abdicated his legal responsibility and let the Nisga’a make this decision for him. All we want the court to do is to order the minister to follow the province’s own laws, plain and simple.”

Williams said that the hunting decisions presently being made by the Nisga’a impact not just Nisga’a but Gitanyow and all non-Aboriginal citizens of B.C. “Basically, this is a major failure of the province to properly implement a modern day treaty. All British Columbians should be seriously concerned.”