In BC and around the world, development pressure on the land is intensifying. A new book will help Aboriginal communities lay better claims to rights and title, and help resolve disputes.

This week, a coalition of BC First Nations made national news by voicing their opposition to Enbridge’s proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline. In the future, Living Proof – a new book launched this month by UBCIC and Ecotrust Canada – will help Aboriginal communities lay better claims to rights and title, and help resolve disputes.

“Use and occupancy mapping is illegal in some countries because governments fear its potency,” says author Terry Tobias. Seven years in the making, the book is the first comprehensive how-to guide that describes how to collect Indigenous data to the highest standards, based on research from Canada to Australia.

In land claims and resource development negotiations, Indigenous people increasingly bear the burden to prove their connection to the land. Living Proof is a methodology for Indigenous communities to assemble their resources to produce high quality use-and-occupancy maps that will stand up in court and be accepted by business.

“First Nations people are still being denied access to realizing the wealth and full utility of their traditional lands, so it is vitally important to record the knowledge of those who have been out asserting their Aboriginal Rights on the ground,” says Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of UBCIC. “Living Proof is extremely valuable in helping us record knowledge in a way that can be used not only for its own sake, but also for negotiation concerning the recognition and reconciliation of our Indigenous land rights.”

Living Proof is based on the research and knowledge of over 100 practitioners and communities in Canada, Alaska and Australia. They provided project advice, case studies and maps, making the guide not only solidly grounded, but also accessible and easy to use.

“This is a piece of work that took many years to research and write, and we are seeing Indigenous communities around the world interested and excited by this book – from South America to Australia,” says Greg Kehm, Program Director for Knowledge Systems and Planning for Ecotrust Canada.

“The book stems from a strong demand by indigenous communities and leaders,” says Kehm. “It is grounded in an identified need, and has immediate global relevance.”

In British Columbia, less than 10% of First Nations have a treaty, rendering comprehensive land claims and knowledge about culture and resources critical to long-term economic development.

For media enquiries please contact:
Daniel Arbour, Ecotrust Canada
daniel@ecotrust.ca
tel. 250-731-6634

If you wish to purchase a copy of Living Proof, click here to go to our publications order form.

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Ecotrust Canada is an enterprising nonprofit whose purpose is to build the conservation economy in coastal BC. We work at the intersection of conservation and community economic development promoting innovation and providing services for communities, First Nations and enterprises to green and grow their local economies.

The Union of BC Indian Chiefs is an organization which represents the interests of BC First Nations, and whose purpose is to advance and improve the level of educational achievement of the Indian people of British Columbia;to help with the relief of poverty among the Indian people of British Columbia; to provide a central organization for uniting together the Indian people of
British Columbia for the purposes of settlement of Land Claims and Aboriginal Rights; and to protect the environment in our hereditary territories and enforce the rights of Indian peoples as set out in the Union’s position paper “Aboriginal Title and Rights”.