Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs Fully Supports Indigenous Opposition to Sale of TimberWest

June 14, 2011

(Coast Salish Territory/Vancouver, BC – June 14, 2011) The Hul’qumi’num Treaty Group announced this week the opposition of 15 First Nations on Vancouver Island to the proposed 1 billion dollar takeover bid of TimberWest Forest Corporation by the British Columbia Investment Management Corporation and the Public Sector Pension Investment Board. The 15 First Nations formalized their coalition by signing the “E & N Declaration” on May 19, 2011.

“Without hesitation, the Union of BC Indian Chiefs stands united with the Vancouver Island First Nations protecting their territories by opposing the sale of TimberWest. Lands which were never sold or relinquished should never be considered ‘private’ land,” stated Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs. “The duty to consult, accommodate and if necessary obtain the free, prior and informed consent is triggered whenever a decision by government or industry infringes upon the Title, Rights and Treaty Rights of First Nations. I would suggest the sale of 113,208 hectares of unceded forested lands triggers the duty to consult.”

Grand Chief Phillip concluded “With Canada’s endorsement of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the UBCIC agrees with the Vancouver Island First Nations that Canada, BC and third parties are obliged by domestic and international law to honour their right to be consulted. To continually ignore or purposely minimize the legal interests of First Nations in the operational planning and/or sale of companies like TimberWest, Taseko or Enbridge will ultimately lead us back to court or to an escalation of conflict on the land.”

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The Coalition includes Cowichan Tribes, Lake Cowichan First Nation, Halalt First Nation, Penelakut Tribe, Lyackson First Nation, Stz’uminus First Nation, Snuneymuxw First Nation, Tseshaht First Nation, Hupacasath First Nation, Laich-kwil-tach Treaty Society which includes, Kwiakah First Nation, Wei Wai Kai First Nation, Wei Wai Kum First Nation, K’omoks First Nation, T’sou-ke First Nation, and the Esquimalt First Nation. The First Nations Summit supports the Coalition. The Coalition is further supported by Amnesty International, Lawyers Rights Watch Canada, Ancient Forest Alliance and Ecotrust Canada.

Media inquiries:
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, Union of BC Indian Chiefs
Phone: (604) 684-0231

UBCIC is a NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.