A photo from 2017 shows Nuchatlaht First Nation members gathered outside the Supreme Court in Vancouver after filing the land title case. ( Nuchatlaht First Nation).

A photo from 2017 shows Nuchatlaht First Nation members gathered outside the Supreme Court in Vancouver after filing the land title case. ( Nuchatlaht First Nation).

B.C. Supreme Court set to hear historic Indigenous land title case next year

Nuchatlaht First Nation gets its day in court in March 2022, five years after first filing its case

Nuchatlaht First Nation has received a trial date of March 15, 2022 from the B.C. Supreme Court, to proceed with its Aboriginal land title case.

The First Nation received its trial date last month after filing a case in 2017 to officially recognize its right and title to territory on the north of Nootka Island, off the northwest coast of Vancouver Island.

Jack Woodward, the lawyer representing the Nuchatlaht said, getting a trail date with a fixed judge is an important step in itself as most often cases like these don’t get to trial or get dropped due to procedural or political reasons, among others.

The trial set for next year already had an interim ruling earlier this month in favour of the First Nation, allowing it to introduce Culturally Modified Trees (CMT) as part of its evidence after Crown counsel argued to exclude archaeological reports prepared by expert Jacob Earnshaw.

Earnshaw was commissioned by the First Nation to perform surveys within the Nuchatlaht claim area on Nootka Island to understand the condition of recorded CMT sites as well as search out and record other previously unrecorded archaeological sites. These records provide a further understanding concerning the use and occupation of the claim area.

The province asked to exclude the report citing Earnshaw’s “bias, novel approach, qualifications and necessity of the opinion.” However the motion was dismissed in court on March 4.

The Nuchatlaht case is significant as it could pave the way for other First Nations in B.C.

The Nuchatlaht case is a direct application of the precedent-setting 2014 Tsilhqot’in decision, where the Supreme Court of Canada granted declaration of aboriginal title to more than 1,700 square kilometres of land in British Columbia to the First Nation. The decision stated that a semi-nomadic tribe can claim title even if the land is used sporadically. Woodward was the lawyer for Tsilhqot’in Nation too.

Nuchatlaht’s case will also the first land title to be tested against the backdrop of United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) that B.C. passed as legislation – DRIPA/ Bill 41 – in 2019.

Last year, in November, the Nuchatlaht had called on the province to honour UNDRIP and drop the “distasteful” legal argument the crown counsel was making – that the First Nation abandoned their territory. They said that the crown counsel had been stalling the case since 2017 by raising “absurd” and expensive arguments for the First Nation community consisting of under 200 members.

READ MORE: Vancouver Island First Nation calls on B.C. to honour UNDRIP in historic title case

The Nuchatlaht claimed that it was forced out of its traditional territory on Nootka Island, and the land was licensed by the province to logging companies without the consent of the First Nation. Western Forest Products – also a defendant in the case along with the provincial and federal governments – runs its operations on Nootka Island.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Spray paint was discovered at Hot Rocks. (Special to The News)
Popular Maple Ridge summer destination vandalized

Rocks discovered with spray paint along South Alouette

Police shut down 240 Street after a single vehicle accident. (The News files)
Maple Ridge man dies following crash

Police believe he went into medical distress before accident

An early morning fire forced the evacuation of a Maple Ridge apartment building on Saturday, April 3 (Deborah Hampton/Special to The News)
City of Maple Ridge thanks volunteers for response to Easter weekend blaze

Emergency Support Services volunteers stepped up to help displaced residents

A partial image from the painting Kanaka Creek by Eric Hotz, which in the exhibit at the Pitt Meadows Art Gallery.
A Study of Nature exhibition opens at Pitt Meadows Art Gallery

Eric Hotz paintings feature familiar scenes from across the Lower Mainland

Burnaby MLA Raj Chouhan presides as Speaker of the B.C. legislature, which opened it spring session April 12 with a speech from the throne. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C. NDP promises more health care spending, business support in 2021 budget

John Horgan government to ‘carefully return to balanced budgets’

A youth was arrested following a car crash on Wallace Street on Saturday, April 10. (Karl Yu/News Bulletin)
Onlookers laugh and jeer as B.C. teen beaten, then forced to strip and walk home

Police arrest older teen, call video shared on social media ‘disturbing’

Surrey RCMP are seeking the public's help to locate three puppies stolen from a South Surrey home on April 10. (Surrey RCMP photos)
Puppies stolen during weekend break-and-enter in South Surrey

Surrey RCMP seeking public’s assistance in locating three American Bulldog puppies

A lady wears a sticker given out after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count slows after last week’s peak

3,219 new cases since Friday, 18 additional deaths

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

North Cowichan councillor Tek Manhas did not violate the municipality’s code of conduct by posting a sexist meme on Facebook, council concludes. (File photo)
B.C. municipality to take no action against councillor who posted sexist meme

Tek Manhas’s meme doesn’t violate North Cowichan council’s code of conduct, municipality concludes

Guinevere, lovingly referred to by Jackee Sullivan and her family as Gwenny, is in need of a gynecological surgery. The family is raising money to help offset the cost of the procedure. (Jackee Sullivan/Special to Langley Advance Times)
Langley lizard’s owners raise funds for gynecological surgery

The young reptile is scheduled for operation on Tuesday

—Image: contributed
Indoor wine tastings still allowed in B.C., not considered a ‘social gathering’

“Tasting is really just part of the retail experience. The analogy I use is you wouldn’t buy a pair of pants without trying them on.”

Mounties say they “corralled” four Ford Mustangs April 4 after an officer saw the muscle cars racing down 184 Street near 53 Avenue at about 10 p.m. (File Photo)
Mounties impound four Mustangs

Surrey RCMP say they seized four cars for street racing

Most Read