UBCIC Celebrates with Huu-ay-aht First Nation as Canada Withdraws Application for Judicial Review, Promises Reform

(Coast Salish Territory/Vancouver, B.C. – September 7, 2017) The Union of BC Indian Chiefs congratulates the Huu-ay-aht First Nation on achieving final resolution of its logging rights specific claim. On September 5, Canada withdrew its application for judicial review of the Specific Claims Tribunal’s decision to award $13.9 million in compensation to the Huu-ay-aht First Nation. Canada has also announced its intention to work collaboratively with Indigenous Peoples to overhaul the specific claims policy and process such that they fully recognize Indigenous rights and reflect a reconciliation-based approach. 

In withdrawing the application for judicial review, Ministers Bennett and Wilson-Raybould stated that the “Huu-ay-aht Nation has waited far too long for the Government of Canada to make amends for past wrongs.” The UBCIC agrees, and we celebrate with the Huu-ay-aht First Nation the resolution of this claim and the final award of fair compensation—almost seventy years after the Nation’s first legal challenge.

Kukpi7 Judy Wilson, Chair of the BC Specific Claims Working Group (BCSCWG), said, “Today we stand with the Huu-ay-aht First Nation in celebration and relief that this claim is finally headed for resolution. This is a human rights issue. The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People states that Indigenous Nations have a right to redress in cases where their lands have been taken, used, or damaged without their ‘free, prior, and informed consent.’ We have always insisted on the creation of a truly independent process for specific claims resolution, in which Canada and Indigenous Nations negotiate as equal partners, on a Nation-to-Nation basis.” The BCSCWG is currently engaging directly with Canada to eliminate the barriers, systemic inequities, and conflict of interest in the process.

This decision will affect hundreds of other claims, including those currently under assessment, before the Tribunal or other courts, and in abeyance, and those that Canada has previously rejected or closed. Canada must deal with these claims as well. UBCIC President Grand Chief Stewart Phillip observed, “We hope Canada’s announcement is an indication of the real and sustained political will that’s needed to fix a truly broken specific and comprehensive land claims process—and of Canada beginning to take responsibility for its historical wrongdoings.”

Media inquiries:
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, Union of BC Indian Chiefs
Phone: (604) 684-0231
Kukpi7 Judy Wilson, Secretary-Treasurer of the UBCIC
Chair of the BC Specific Claims Working Group
Phone: (604) 684-0231