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

A mushroom grower plans to plan new mushrooms in fallen trees in the Kaslo Community Forest. File photo
Kaslo mushroom farmer given green light for unique project

Robin Mercy will plant mushrooms in the Kaslo Community Forest

Nelson dancers Glynis Waring, Slava Doval and Amanda Papailhou, and musician Nella Banner, premier Respired on April 11. Photo: Submitted
New dance work the latest online offering from Capitol Theatre

Local performers will unveil Respired beginning April 11

B.C's COVID-19 dashboard shows the peaks and valleys of cases prior to the record daily report of 132 on April 9, 2021. (Dashboard image)
Interior Health has record day of COVID-19 cases

132 cases reported Friday, April 9, more deaths in Vernon hospital outbreak

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
1,262 more COVID-19 infections in B.C. Friday, 9,574 active cases

Province’s mass vaccination reaches one million people

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

A vehicle that was driven through the wall of a parkade at Uptown Shopping Centre and into the nearby Walmart on April 9 was removed through another hole in the wall later that night. (Photo via Saanich Police Department and Ayush Kakkar)
Vehicle launched into B.C. Walmart removed following rescue of trapped workers

Crews cut new hole in parkade wall to remove vehicle safely

Four members with Divers for Cleaner Lakes and Oceans were out at Cultus Lake on March 28 and 29 hauling trash out of the waters. (Henry Wang)
PHOTOS: Out-of-town divers remove 100s of pounds of trash from Cultus Lake

Members of Divers for Cleaner Lakes and Oceans hauled out 470 pounds of trash over two days

As of Saturday, April 10, people born in 1961 are the latest to be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine. (Black Press files)
B.C. residents age 60+ can now register to get their COVID-19 vaccine

Vaccine registration is now open to people born in 1961 or earlier

A new saline gargle test, made in B.C., will soon be replacing COVID-19 nasal swab tests for kids. (PHSA screenshot)
Take-home COVID-19 tests available for some B.C. students who fall ill at school

BC Children’s Hospital plans to provide 1,200 kits to Vancouver district schools this April

Ruming Jiang and his dog Chiu Chiu are doing fine following a brush with hypothermia that saw several people work together to get them out of the Fraser River near Langley’s Derby Reach Park on March 25, 2021 (Special to the Advance Times)
Man finds men who rescued him from drowning in B.C.’s Fraser River

A grateful Ruming Jiang says he will thank them again, this time in person when the pandemic ends

Tyson Ginter, 7, is proud of his latest Hot Wheels he recently received by Quesnel RCMP Const. Matt Joyce. (Photo submitted)
B.C. Mountie handing out toy cars to light up children’s faces

‘A lot of times it will be the only interaction they have with the police,’ says Const. Matt Joyce

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam speaks during a technical briefing on the COVID pandemic in Canada, Friday, January 15, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s ICUs see near-record of COVID-19 patients last week as variant cases double

Last week, Canadian hospitals treated an average of 2,500 patients with COVID-19, daily, up 7% from the previous week

Most Read