On Friday, Huu-ay-aht First Nations issued a press release reacting to news that the Canadian government has decided to appeal the Specific Claims Tribunal decision awarding more than $13.8 million in compensation to Huu-ay-aht First Nations for breaches of duty Canada committed between 1948 and 1969.
Chief Councillor Robert J. Dennis Sr. called the decision “outrageous,” adding, “Part of our reconciliation to this long-term dispute was to seek fair compensation. We trusted Canada’s judicial processes to achieve this, but we are extremely disappointed to hear this will be further prolonged. It is unfair to our Nation.”
Since issuing the release (link to full release), Huu-ay-aht has received support from a number of notable sources, including Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, MLA Scott Fraser, and Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council Vice-President Ken Watts.
Grand Chief Phillip said, “The Minister (Justice Minister Jody Wilson) fully understands why Canada needs to honour the Tribunal’s decisions, yet she chooses to go against her own words. Taking an action like this against one Nation signals Canada’s unwillingness to pursue reconciliation with Indigenous Nations, despite the Prime Minister’s promises”.
“Canada, who has all the resources, continues to exploit the same imbalance of power that first gave rise to this claim almost 70 years ago. Unless Canada withdraws this application, it will again be choosing denial, conflict, and litigation over fair process, resolution, and upholding the Honour of the Crown.” (For copies of the full letter of support from the NTC click here.)
The release issued by the NTC states that they fully agree that, “a judicial review is unfair, and prolonging this clear decision in favour of Huu-ay-aht is a waste of taxpayers’ money.”
It went on to say, “The NTC is calling upon Minister Wilson-Raybould, Attorney General of Canada, to do better and follow the direction of the Prime Minister in his mandate letter to ‘review [the] litigation strategy. This should include early decisions to end appeals or positions that are not consistent with our commitments, the Charter or our values.’” (For the letter of support from the NTC click here.)
In a phone call on Tuesday, Fraser told Huu-ay-aht he plans on writing a letter of support, which he will share with other members of legislature and the public. He said, as the NDP critic for Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation, he believes it is important to raise such issues in his riding.