Le Lézard
Subjects: LAW, NTA, DEI

Gitanmaax Reaches Major Milestone with Settlement of Historical Claim Against Canada

GITANMAAX, BC, July 26, 2023 /CNW/ - The Gitanmaax Band Council is pleased to announce the settlement of a specific claim originally filed with Canada in 2001. The claim involved breaches of Canada's legal obligations to Gitanmaax in the surrender, or transfer, of approximately 36 acres of reserve lands in 1948.

Gitanmaax surrendered the reserve land to Canada to ensure the construction of a mixed school for Indigenous and non-Indigenous children close to the community's main reserve. From Canada's perspective, the 1948 surrender facilitated the expansion of the adjacent largely non-Indigenous Village of Hazelton.

The 1948 surrender caused logistical, legal and political difficulties for Gitanmaax and Canada, and led to long standing damage to the physical and political landscape of the Gitanmaax community. "Gitanmaax leadership started demanding that the lands be de-surrendered and returned to Gitanmaax as early as the 1950s," said Chief Councillor Tracey Woods, "but Canada ignored these requests and continued to sell our lands to non-Indigenous settlers." Land sales continued until the mid-1970s.

Gitanmaax sued Canada in Federal Court in 1987 and filed the specific claim with Canada in 2001 under Canada's Specific Claims Process. "Successive Gitanmaax Chiefs and Councils carried the fight for justice forward over many years," continued Chief Woods, "and we have finally succeeded."

The settlement involves Canada paying Gitanmaax $6,114,000 in exchange for Gitanmaax ending the specific claim and related lawsuit. Gitanmaax members voted in favour of the settlement in December.

This settlement reflects the hard work of many Gitanmaax leaders, elders, community members and staff over the last seven decades, Chief Woods added. "Even those who have passed, stand with us today as we celebrate reaching this milestone in our history."

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SOURCE Gitanmaax Band

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