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'Historic' law recognizing Haida Aboriginal title introduced in B.C. legislature

President of the Haida Nation Gaagwiis Jason Alsop speaks during an event to recognize the Haida Nation's Aboriginal title throughout Haida Gwaii during a ceremony in the the Hall of Honour in the legislature, in Victoria, Monday, April 22, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

VICTORIA — The B.C. government says legislation formally recognizing the Haida Nation's Aboriginal title over the archipelago of Haida Gwaii was introduced in the legislature Monday. 

The province says the "Rising Tide" Haida Title Lands Agreement is the first negotiated deal of its kind in Canada, providing for a "staged transition" to Haida jurisdiction. 

Haida Nation President Jason Alsop said the new law in B.C. is a "step toward peaceful co-existence" with the province. 

"It was always Haida title land," Alsop said at a news conference alongside Premier David Eby and others Monday. "We look forward to the opportunities that come out of this, but we recognize it's not easy work."

"It's an exciting thing to be a part of. The status quo is just not working and it takes work to change it and we're committed to it," he said. 

Alsop said in a statement Monday that the new legislation means the nation can realize its "vision for Haida Gwaii" free of conflict with the provincial government. 

He said the Nation plans on taking control of Haida Gwaii's economy according to Haida "values and traditions," taking a sustainable rather than exploitive approach to the land and the sea.

Alsop said in the statement the B.C. government was "honourable" to recognize the Nation's title after more than "150 years of denial." 

Premier Eby said at the news conference that the legislation should transcend partisan politics, and he hopes there will be a consensus in the house when the bill comes up for a vote. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 22, 2024.

The Canadian Press

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