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

Nurse Vicki Niemi administers a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to Joyce, 88, on Mar. 23, 2020 at the Terrace Sportsplex. All adults in Terrace are now eligible to register for a COVID-19 vaccination. (Ben Bogstie/Terrace Standard)
All adults in Terrace can now register for a COVID-19 vaccine appointment

Community members can register by calling 833-838-2323 or visiting getvaccinated.gov.bc.ca

April 2020 to March 2021 was the second wettest year on record since at least 1969, according to Environment Canada. (Ben Bogstie/Terrace Standard)
VIDEO: Terrace records wettest spell in over a half-century

Terrace saw close to 1,500 millimetres of precipitation between April 2020 and March 2021

Terrace fire department responded to a call from Skeena Saw Mills at the early hours of Friday morning. (Binny Paul/ Terrace Standard)
UPDATE: Fire crews respond to early morning incident at Skeena Sawmills

No injuries were reported as mill workers immediately alerted the fire department after seeing smoke

Terrace Tim Hortons on Keith Ave. experienced a fire during the morning of April 4, 2021. (Ben Bogstie/Terrace Standard)
Nature of Tim Hortons fire made it difficult to detect: Deputy fire chief

Fire likely burned undetected inside a wall, resulting in extensive damage

Restaurant patrons enjoy the weather on a patio in Vancouver, B.C., Monday, April 5, 2021. The province has suspended indoor dining at restaurants and pubs until at least April 19 in B.C. due to a spike in COVID-19 numbers. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. sets new COVID-19 daily record with 1,293 cases Thursday

New order allows workplace closures when infections found

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

People walk past the Olympic rings in Whistler, B.C., Friday, May 15, 2020. Whistler which is a travel destination for tourists around the world is seeing the effects of travel bans due to COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Adults living, working in Whistler, B.C., eligible for COVID-19 vaccine on Monday

The move comes as the province deals with a rush of COVID-19 and variant cases in the community

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
UPDATE: RCMP investigating after child, 6, dies at motel in Duncan, B.C.

The BC Coroners Service is conducting its own investigation into the circumstances around the child’s death

RCMP display some of the fish seized from three suspects who pleaded guilty to violating the Fisheries Act in 2019, in this undated handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - RCMP
3 banned from fishing, holding licences after overfishing violations near Vancouver Island

Mounties seized the group’s 30-foot fishing vessel and all equipment on board at the time

B.C. Premier John Horgan responds to questions during a postelection news conference in Vancouver, on Sunday, October 25, 2020. British Columbia’s opposition Liberals and Greens acknowledge the COVID-19 pandemic has presented huge challenges for Horgan’s government, but they say Monday’s throne speech must outline a coherent plan for the province’s economic, health, social and environmental future. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Horgan’s NDP to bring in throne speech in B.C., Opposition wants coherent plan

Farnworth said the budget will include details of government investment in communities and infrastructure

FILE - An arena worker removes the net from the ice after the Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames NHL hockey game was postponed due to a positive COVID-19 test result, in Vancouver, British Columbia, in this Wednesday, March 31, 2021, file photo. As vaccinations ramp up past a pace of 3 million a day in the U.S, the NHL is in a tougher spot than the other three major North American professional sports leagues because seven of 31 teams are based on Canada. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP, File)
Vancouver Canucks scheduled to practice Sunday, resume games April 16 after COVID outbreak

Canucks outbreak delayed the team’s season by eight games

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod, seen here on April 9, 2021 with four-year-old sister Elena and mom Vanessa, was born with limb differences. The family, including husband/dad Sean McLeod, is looking for a family puppy that also has a limb difference. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. family looking for puppy with limb difference, just like 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy McLeod born as bilateral amputee, now her family wants to find ‘companion’ puppy for her

Most Read