The court case involving the City of Prince Rupert and the Gitxaala Nation of Kitkatla regarding the sale of Watson Island took another turn earlier this month with the court granting Lax Kw’alaams standing as a defendant in the case.
The order, dated March 15, is in response to a request filed by Chief Garry Reece on February 2 requesting that “Chief Garry Reece on his own behalf and on behalf of the members of the Lax Kw’alaams Indian Band be added as a party Defendant in this proceeding” and that the Lax Kw’alaams First Nation be given 21 days to file a response to the notice of claim first submitted to the courts by Chief Elmer Moody and the Gitxaala Nation back in January.
Lax Kw’alaams was seeking standing in the case because “in claiming Aboriginal title to Prince Rupert Harbour and Watson Island with the Notice of Civil Claim, the Gitxaala have directly put in issue the Aboriginal title of the Lax Kw’alaams”. Kitkatla had filed a response opposing the move to include Lax Kw’alaams as a defendant in the case.
The crux of the case is that the Gitxaala Nation says the City of Prince Rupert is required to consult with them prior to selling the former pulp mill site given their claim of Aboriginal title to the area and the City being a “creature of the crown”.
The City of Prince Rupert’s response was that it did not owe a duty to consult as it “operates as a separate legal entity, independent from the Crown, and not as a creature of the Crown” and “has no obligation or authority to settle aboriginal claims or enter treaty negotiations”.
Look for more on this story as it becomes available.