Updated: April 3, 2023

Vancouver B.C. – B.C.’s Human Rights Commissioner will appear in court this week on two cases being heard together, Gitxaala Nation v. Chief Gold Commissioner of B.C. et al. and Ehattesaht First Nation v. His Majesty the King in right of B.C. et al. These cases mark the first legal tests of B.C.’s Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act (the Declaration Act) since it became law in 2019. How the Declaration Act is interpreted and implemented has important implications for reconciliation in the province.

B.C.’s Declaration Act is human rights law. As such, it is like any other piece of human rights legislation. It must take primacy over ordinary statutes like the Mineral Tenure Act.

Kasari Govender, B.C.’s Human Rights Commissioner

“B.C.’s Declaration Act is human rights law that is specific to Indigenous Peoples,” said Human Rights Commissioner Kasari Govender. “As such, it is like any other piece of human rights legislation here in B.C. It must take primacy over other kinds of statutes like the Mineral Tenure Act, and be interpreted broadly and purposively,” she continued.  

“This case is a test of what the Declaration Act means and how it applies to B.C. laws. We say the court must adopt the interpretation of the Act that best upholds the human rights at issue: Indigenous Peoples’ collective human rights. That is, we say, that the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is not merely aspirational international law, but has been implemented here in B.C.’s domestic law,” she concluded.  

For more information about the cases and the Commissioner’s intervention, please view the following resources: 


Media contact

To request an interview with Commissioner Kasari Govender, please contact Charlotte Kingston, Director, Communications, at or 1-250-216-4534.

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BC’s Office of the Human Rights Commissioner exists to address the root causes of inequality, discrimination and injustice in B.C. by shifting laws, policies, practices and cultures. We do this work through education, research, advocacy, inquiry and monitoring. Learn more at:

About the Commissioner

B.C.’s Human Rights Commissioner, Kasari Govender, started her five-year term on Sept. 3, 2019. Since then, our Office has been working swiftly to build a strong team, to listen deeply to the concerns of British Columbians, to deliver education materials on our rights and responsibilities, to issue policy guidance to protect marginalized communities and to lay a human rights-based foundation for our work. As an independent officer of the Legislature, the Commissioner is uniquely positioned to ensure human rights in B.C. are protected, respected and advanced on a systemic level throughout our society.

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