Groups celebrating with Nuchatlaht, as First Nation’s Title is recognized in landmark case
May 18, 2023
səl̓ílwətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh), xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), and Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish) Territories (Vancouver, BC) – The Friends of Nuchatlaht, including community members, Awi’nakola Foundation, Stand.earth and Wilderness Committee, are celebrating Nuchatlaht’s successes in the Nation’s landmark Title case. In a verdict released by the British Columbia Supreme Court last week, Nuchatlaht won on nearly every issue argued, and were awarded the first ever recognition of Indigenous Title by a trial court.
The B.C. government was the primary defendant in the case, with the federal government taking a passive approach and logging giant Western Forest Products withdrawing early in the proceedings. The province’s lawyers made headlines before and during the case for shameful tactics of questioning the Nation’s legitimacy, connection to their lands and stewardship of their territory. Despite the province’s archaic and dishonourable position, the judge sided with Nuchatlaht and upheld the Nation’s Title within their traditional territory.
The precedent setting decision will have a major impact for any other First Nations seeking Title, as it clarifies key points of the law. In a release, Nuchatlaht Tyee Hawiilth (Chief) Jordan Michael said, “With this victory Nuchatlaht hope to clear a path for others to follow.”
Read the full press release from Nuchatlaht First Nation here.
Rather than recognizing the entire claim area that the Nation identified at trial, the judge has invited Nuchlaht to return to court to identify specific areas of Title. As Nuchatlaht pursues the next steps in this case, our groups are reiterating our unwavering support for Nuchatlaht and their inherent Title and Rights. We will continue to stand behind Nuchatlaht and we invite everyone in B.C. and beyond to join us in support for the Nation.
We admire the grace and conviction of the Nuchatlaht for upholding their own inherent rights, responsibilities and title to their lands and waters. We know that the land belongs to them. The only question that remains is how long will it take the B.C. NDP government to recognize the obvious – that when European colonization began, Indigenous Nations were already using, stewarding and living on the land. It was not free to take.
British Columbia’s arguments against Nuchatlaht were brought forward and argued at trial during Premier David Eby’s time as Attorney General. Despite the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act (DRIPA) and new legal directives introduced in B.C. during Nuchatlaht’s case, the province continued to present harmful arguments that forced Nuchatlaht to respond and extended the trial. As Nuchatlaht pursues the next stage in this lengthy process, we are calling on Premier Eby and the B.C. NDP government to act honourably and in keeping with their commitments under DRIPA, to recognize the inherent Title and rights of First Nations, and prevent other Nations from facing the same avoidable challenges in the court system as Nuchatlaht.
Nuchatlaht courthouse rally (March 2022)
Tegan Hansen, Stand.earth – 1-250-354-3302 firstname.lastname@example.org
Torrance Coste, Wilderness Committee – 1-250-516-9900 email@example.com
Mark Worthing, Friends of Nuchatlaht – 1-250-889-3575 firstname.lastname@example.org