On Indigenous Peoples Day, the Lheidli T’enneh Nation announced that it, and it alone are the rights and title holders of their lands.
The nation also makes it clear resource extraction projects will need their consent in the territory before moving ahead.
Lheidli T’enneh First Nation said they’ve never ceded their territory through treaty or war.
“We are Lheidli T’enneh people; we are of Dakelh origin from the confluence of the two rivers, the Nechako, Nechako River meaning Strong Undercurrents and the Lhta Koh, the Fraser River, meaning Big Mouth River,” said Joshua Seymour, a councillor for Lheidli T’enneh.
“We are the sovereign inhabitants and traditional owners and occupiers and users of our vast unceded territories and resources. “
The nation’s traditional territory is located in northern B.C. surrounding Prince George, Valemount and McBride.
The nation said they have worked on this declaration with their legal team for five years.
It hopes to build a brighter future for their members, where extraction of resources from their lands does not happen without their free, prior, informed consent.
Joe Gosnell, executive director of Lheidli T’enneh, said they are building a new relationship with the government.
“Lheidli T’enneh are entering a new period of relationship building with the province of BC and the federal government of Canada, it is important that they know where the Lheidli T’enneh stand on the issue of land ownership title and rights,” he said.
APTN News contacted both federal and provincial governments for comment but did not receive a response.
Chief Dolleen Logan said they chose Indigenous Day for their declaration to help Canadians better understand their history, governance and traditions.
She added that they have a great working relationship with the regional government of Prince George and this declaration is about moving forward with government industry and businesses.
“You don’t need a treaty to do this; this is us saying we said no to the treaty twice, and now this is the time for the government to take action, and this is our territory,” she said.
She is hopeful that other nations that don’t have a treaty take action as well.
“I hope everyone across Canada that doesn’t have a treaty makes their own declaration; we need to stay together with this.”