SpruceRoots - Transcript No. 2
November 28, 2002

Haida Title and Implications

John Broadhead, President, Gowgaia Institute

Good evening and welcome to the Gowgaia Institute Speakers' Series - event number two. I'd like to begin by welcoming you all here this evening: ladies held in high esteem, Chiefs, friends, neighbours, good people of Queen Charlotte City and Haida Gwaii.

The purpose of the Speakers' Series is to talk about the changes that are unfolding in our lives and our communities. This evening we are here to talk about Aboriginal and Haida Title on Haida Gwaii.

The Canada Constitution Act says that existing Aboriginal Rights and Title are affirmed in Canadian law. The Supreme Court of Canada has said that Aboriginal Title, if proven in a trial, coexists with Crown Title. In the words of Chief Justice Lamer of the Supreme Court of Canada in the ruling on Delgamuukw: "We are all here to stay." This is the puzzle of our times. Finding the path of all being here together.

The Haida Nation has filed a writ in the Supreme Court of British Columbia to prove their title to Haida Gwaii/Queen Charlotte Islands. Over the past year, one BC Supreme Court ruling and two by the BC Court of Appeal have said that the Haida are likely to succeed at proving Aboriginal Title at trial, and they have notified the province and Weyerhaeuser in particular that they have to start acting "as if", and begin negotiating with the Haida to accommodate their interests and concerns.

One of the outcomes of those talks over the past six months has been that Weyerhaeuser's annual allowable cut has been lowered by half, from 1.2 million to 600,000 cubic meters. Another is that significant stands of cedar trees, particularly big cedar trees good for cultural uses like monumental poles, are being reserved by the Haida through negotiation with Weyerhaeuser and are being withdrawn from logging plans.

So the change is already happening around the Title issue. The Title issue is emerging here on Haida Gwaii. It is manifesting in law. It is something that we have talked about for many, many years, and now with the initiative of the Haida going to court, there is probably going to be a lot more change coming soon. We thought it would be good to sit together tonight to hear what the Title case is about, to build understanding in our community about what it is, and hopefully to inform the discussions our communities are having with the Council of the Haida Nation about a Protocol Agreement.

In this second presentation in the Gowgaia Institute Speakers' Series, two of the principal lawyers for the Haida are here tonight. We are pleased to welcome Terri-Lynn Williams-Davidson and Louise Mandell who are going to explain the legal basis of Aboriginal and Haida Title and describe some of the potential implications, and of course have some discussion about it.

Louise Mandell is a lawyer with Mandell Pinder in Vancouver. She has practiced exclusively in the area of Aboriginal and Treaty Rights since 1977. Over the past twenty-five years Louise has been in court on many of the major Aboriginal Rights cases in Canada -- Regina vs Sparrow, Guerin vs the Queen, Delgamuukw vs the Queen, Regina vs Van der Peet, Osoyoos vs the Town of Oliver, and most recently the Council of the Haida Nation vs British Columbia and Weyerhaeuser -- all key court cases around the issue of Aboriginal Title, and weÕre very lucky to have her here tonight to explain the legal rational and history.

Louise will be followed by a presentation on what the implications may be on Haida Gwaii by gid7ahl gudsllaay, Terri-Lynn Williams-Davidson, well known to many of us who have lived here for a long time. Terri-Lynn is a Haida artist, singer and dancer. She is the executive director of EAGLE (Environmental Aboriginal Guardianship through Law and Education) and she is a director of the Gowgaia Institute, and we're very pleased to have her here tonight.

After the presentations by Louise and Terri-Lynn, weÕll have questions and answers and then we'll break for the evening and have some refreshments in the back. You're welcome to hang around and talk things over. So without further ado IÕd like to ask Louise Mandell to come up and say a few words.