A Platform for Action – Implementation of Aboriginal Title

Doug WhiteOur Title is not defined by a piece of paper, the Courts, or an agreement. Our Title is the expression of how we live on, use, govern and act as stewards of the land – as we have done for countless generations. Our Title is defined by the fact that our land sustains our spirituality and culture. Our Title is defined by who we are, and not by what others tell us. Our Title is an inherent part of our identity as Indigenous Peoples.

The role of the courts and the constitution is not, and never can be, to define and tell us who we are and what our Title is. Rather, the law is merely a tool that has been used to move the crown from its racist denial of our Title to a standpoint of recognition. That shift is now taking place. With the Tsilhqot’in Nation decision the days of denial are limited. It has been, and will continue to be, a hard road, but recognition will take place.

Over many years a pattern has emerged of our Title becoming a protracted subject of litigation and negotiations. Now is the time for a focus even more on implementation. This work has always been about re-connecting with our Territories in real ways – and now we must advance that work by exercising our laws and governance over our lands in ever expansive ways. We need not wait for court declaration or agreements.

As Regional Chief I will work to support all First Nations in advancing a Title implementation agenda. This will include providing assistance in legal and governance development; supporting collective strategies that move recognition forward; advocacy that directly confronts broken crown denial approaches; and forcefully working to shift crown conduct out of denial. Litigation and negotiation are means and tools, they are not the end goal or the main path. We use them as needed to implement Title, but our focus must remain on holding the sacrifice of our ancestors up by living our Title in all that we do.