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Two First Nations declare own water management laws

Two north central BC First Nations plan to assert their own water management laws today.

The Nadleh Whut’en and Stellat’en say the laws are an expression of their inherent governance rights.

Both nations say their laws will bring about much higher standards than the current provincial scheme when it comes to regulations covering rivers, lakes, streams, and creeks throughout their territories.

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs says the former Harper government gutted environmental protection laws and the province hasn’t stepped up, forcing the two First Nations to step in with their own regime.

Phillip says taking this step is an extension of the landmark Tsilhqot’in decision, and due to the province’s failure to engage First Nations.

He adds there’ll be wider ramifications if other First Nations make similar declarations, he specifically points to Site C where BC Hydro lawyers said the First Nations protesters didn’t have legal standing to block construction.

Phillip says the declaration means indigenous peoples will pursue their own water management policies when they see the government falling short.

Hereditary and elected leaders were on hand for the declaration in Vancouver at the UBIC office.

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