VANCOUVER – A B.C. First Nation is taking the federal and provincial governments to court for two billion dollars and a massive land claim.
The small Hwlitsum First Nation is laying claim to parts of the Gulf Islands, Southern Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland, including Stanley Park. In the notice of claim filed in court, it states the “Aboriginal rights and title are including, but not limited to, lands in and around TI’uqtinus village, Xway Xway, Hwlitsum, including all lands at Brunswick Point, Westham Island and all or some of the lands at Salt Spring Island, Gabriola Island, Valdes Island, Galiano Island, Saturna Island, North and South Pender Island, Mayne Island, the San Juan Islands, the Lamalcha portions of Penelakut Island, Lummi and other locations throughout their traditional territory, including Musqueam, Chemainus and Coquitlam.”
They say more than 100 years ago they lost their land when it was shelled by a Royal Navy gunboat.
“When you look at our history and genealogy you will see that we’ve always been here and did not, as Canada would suggest, simply fall out of the sky one day in the last 10 or 15 years,” said Hwlitsum chief Raymond (Rocky) Wilson.
“Our serious dispute is not with private land owners or other First Nations, but with the Crown, Canada and the province, in this case British Columbia, who have consistently hidden their heads in the sand and ignored what we have to say.”
The Hwlitsum Nation regained Indian status after a 15-year fight in Supreme Court, but are still fighting for federal and provincial recognition of their band of about 250 members.