A federal tribunal has ruled a Vancouver Island First Nation should get more than $13.8 million in compensation for government failure to ensure it was properly compensated for two decades of timber harvesting.
On Monday, the Canadian Specific Claims Tribunal awarded the Port Alberni-area Huu-ay-aht First Nations that sum in connection with logging that took place on the former Numukamis reserve between 1948 and 1969.
The decision confirms what the Huu-ay-aht should have been compensated in today’s dollars and follows a 2014 ruling that Canada had not acted in the band’s best interests in a deal that left the First Nation with far less than it should have recieved for its timber.
“Today is a great day for Huu-ay-aht First Nations,” Chief Councillor Robert J. Dennis Sr. said in a media release. “Justice has been served almost 68 years after Canada refused to protect our timber interests.
Huu-ay-aht filed a claim with the Tribunal in 2011. Huu-ay-aht chiefs petitioned Canada at the time of the logging operations, asserting that the licence should be cancelled, to no avail.
The tribunal was established in 2008 to hear claims by First Nations regarding past wrongs when resolution cannot be reached through negotiations.
“This is truly amazing for myself in the position and responsibility I have for my Huu-ay-aht tribe,” Tayii Ḥaw̓ ił ƛiiš in (Derek Peters) explained. “In the name I carry as head chief, it’s a huge accomplishment. I know taking this on was in the hands of the ƛiiš ins before me, and now seeing it come to a decision is very amazing for my family and the entire Huu-ay-aht Nation. It was those leaders before my time who put us on this path, and now I get to see it happen in my time.”
Dennis said he is 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. Together we have an opportunity to advance the important work of long term reconciliation.”