Canada accepts Tribunal decision for Huu-ay-aht First Nations

Specific Claims Tribunal decision awards Nation $13.8 million in compensation for breaches of duty

The Canadian government has decided to uphold the ruling regarding the Specific Claims Tribunal Decision awarding Huu-ay-aht First Nations $13.8 million in compensation for breaches of duty.

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.

In 2014, the Tribunal found that Canada had breached its fiduciary obligations numerous times in relation to the sale of the timber. Justice Whalen found that Canada had not acted in Huu-ay-aht’s best interests and had entered into an unlawful contract, and that Huu-ay-aht had received far less for its timber than it ought to have.

In December 2016, the Specific Claims Tribunal released a decision awarding $13.8 million in compensation to Huu-ay-aht First Nations for the losses suffered due to Canada’s breaches of duty in this case. In January 2017, the Nation was notified that the Canadian Government had launched an appeal of the Tribunal’s compensation decision. On September 5, 2017, Huu-ay-aht received word that Canada did not plan to further prolong the decision by going through a judicial review process.

“We are happy that Canada is going to honour its commitment to reconciliation by accepting this ruling,” explained Huu-ay-aht’s chief councillor Robert J. Dennis Sr. “Throughout this long-term dispute, Huu-ay-aht was seeking fair compensation. Today we are pleased to hear Canada will finally offer it to us. We believe it is wise to honour this decision in a pragmatic and reconciliatory manner instead of both sides having to spend more time and money fighting it.”

With this decision to end any judicial review, Huu-ay-aht First Nations will be able to move forward and continue its focus on developing a strong economy for its citizens.

Huu-ay-aht’s legal counsel, Kate Blomfield of Ratcliff & Company, is pleased that Canada has discontinued its challenge to the compensation awarded by the Tribunal.

“This is a welcome outcome to a long-fought dispute,” she said. “We are honoured to have travelled down this path with Huu-ay-aht. It is well earned through the Nations’ efforts and the persistence of many Huu-ay-aht First Nations members and leaders, both past and present.”

“I am so pleased that my tribe will finally get justice in this 68-year case,” Tayii Ḥaw̓ił ƛiišin (Derek Peters) explained. “Canada’s decision not to further prolong this decision honours the many leaders who have held my name before me. Seeing this result makes me happy for my family and the entire Huu-ay-aht Nation.”

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