In both Canadian and Indigenous law, different lands were understood to have many different uses. These different uses created a need to manage them in different ways. For example, if there is a good hunting area that Gitga’at people depend on, then we would want to make sure that a shopping mall could not be built there. The lands chapters outline which lands Gitga’at First Nation will manage and how we will manage those lands. In these chapters, you will be able to find maps of lands and rules about how they can be managed.
Some common lands categories that will be addressed in this Treaty are Gitga’at Lands, Resource Management Areas, and Crown Lands. On Gitga’at Lands, Gitga’at First Nation has Title, meaning that have law-making authority over a large spectrum of ways that land can be managed, such as whether it is public or private and how the resources can be managed. Resource Management Areas may have the condition that we can express our Aboriginal Rights in the area, such as hunting and fishing, and that we can contribute to decision making, but we do not own the territory. Crown Lands are lands that are managed exclusively by the Government of British Columbia, but we do not have decision-making authority on the lands. We may, however, exercise our Aboriginal Rights on the land.
Gitga’at Treaty Lands
Gitga’at Treaty Lands, also known as Treaty Settlement Lands (TSL) are the Lands that will be permanently transferred to the Gitga’at First Nation during the Treaty implementation process. Gitga’at Treaty Lands have the widest range of management rights. This means that Gitga’at First Nation will be able to do many things with these lands, including designate them as public lands, protected areas, or resource development areas, among other things. These management rights will be greater than they have been in the past, but just as is true everywhere in Canada, they may still be restricted by some Federal and Provincial Laws. The Gitga’at Treaty Lands chapter defines exactly where Gitga’at Treaty Lands are, and the legal tools to manage the land.
To keep a record of all Gitga’at Lands after a Treaty is implemented, Gitga’at will likely use an existing provincial lands ownership registry called the Torrens system. The Torrens system of land registration is a secure system that is designed to register all transactions about land and land ownership to avoid confusion about who owns the land and any tenures, licences, or other categories of land ownership that may be on it. This system will account for Gitga’at First Nation public lands, other land use rights, and could account for personal land holdings, such as homes and the property they are built on if the decision is taken that individual Gitga’at members will be able to own portions of Gitga’at Land.
Roads and Rights-of-Way
The movement of people and goods, primarily on or, in the case of a LNG pipeline, adjacent to roads, can also be managed. Roads and Rights of way are usually public, and most of the roads on Gitga’at Treaty Settlement Land will be treated as public. However, Gitga’at will also be able to identify some roads as private, especially where this is considered preferable or necessary for the protection of sites of cultural or spiritual significance. The Treaty defines who has the responsibility of building and maintaining the Roads and Rights-of-Way on Gitga’at Lands, and who can use them. The chapter explains that roads on Gitga’at Lands will be owned by the Gitga’at First Nation, but Crown Corridors will be managed by British Columbia. Rights-of-Way and Crown Corridors can include highways and rail lines.
Many different people will want to Access Gitga’at Lands for many different reasons. For example, some people will want to access Gitga’at Lands for recreation purposes, such as kayakers. We may want to allow them to experience the territory, but we may not want them to have access to projects on our territory such as a hydro-electric project. Conversely, we may not want to have utility company employees looking all around our territory whenever they want to, but we will want them to have access to utilities when that’s necessary if they are broken or need maintenance, in which case they will need to notify GFN. The access chapter sets out the rules for non-Gitga’at people and groups accessing Gitga’at Lands – when, for how long, and why they are accessing the lands. Though Treaty Lands will be owned and managed by the Gitga’at First Nation, general access to the land will remain open to the public except to Gitga’at Lands we have designated as private lands.