Tribunal awards Huu-ay-aht First Nations $14M

The $13.8 million is compensation from a Specific Claims Tribunal over Canada’s breaches of duty over a logging licence.

The Huu-ay-aht First Nations have been awarded $13.8 million in compensation from a Specific Claims Tribunal over Canada’s breaches of duty over a logging licence.

The compensation was awarded by the specific claims tribunal, a panel that decides First Nations claims against Canada regarding past wrongs.

Huu-ay-aht filed a claim with the tribunal in 2011 about logging that took place on former Numukamis IR1 between 1948 and 1969. Huu-ay-aht chiefs petitioned Canada at the time of the logging operations, asserting that the licence should be cancelled, to no avail.

“Today is a great day for Huu-ay-aht First Nations,” Chief Councillor Robert Dennis Sr. said.

“Justice has been served almost 68 years after Canada refused to protect our timber interests. We are hopeful that the Minister of Indigenous Affairs, Caroline Bennett, and the Minister of Justice, Jody Wilson-Raybould, will choose the path of reconciliation over the path of court appeals.”

The ruling states that the Huu-ay-aht in 1938 surrendered all its marketable timber on its largest West Coast reserve to Canada, to be sold on terms that would most benefit the nations. This didn’t happen, the tribunal found in 2014: Canada had breached its fiduciary obligations in relation to the way the timber was sold. Justice Whalen found that Canada had not acted in Huu-ay-aht’s best interests, had entered into an unlawful arrangement with a logging company and that Huu-ay-aht had received far less compensation than it ought to have for its timber.

Historical damages were translated into 2016 value, which is how the $13.8 million figure was decided.

Huu-ay-aht First Nations Hereditary Chief Derek Peters said the ruling was “a huge accomplishment” for the nations.

“It was those leaders before my time who put us on this path, and now I get to see it happen in my time.”