Stand with Nuchatlaht
Tell BC: Stop opposing Nuchatlaht title
On March 30, the BC NDP government released a plan to put its Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act (DRIPA) into practice.
The action plan was widely celebrated by Premier John Horgan and members of cabinet, but while they were patting themselves on the back, provincial government lawyers were in the BC Supreme Court fighting against the Nuchatlaht Nation with outdated colonial arguments.
Lawyers working under BC Attorney General David Eby oppose the nation’s claim that their core territory on Nootka Island belongs to Nuchatlaht. Government lawyers argue the nation abandoned their territory, lost connection to their lands, are too small, and have not been there long enough to have legal title.
The Crown is even seeking costs from the Nuchatlaht, placing an unfair burden on the small community that’s had its territory ravaged by industrial logging and fishing.
Action 2.3 of the new DRIPA Action Plan directs the attorney general to issue new guidelines to Crown counsel involved in litigation regarding the rights of Indigenous Peoples.
On April 21, the BC NDP announced that the attorney general had issued these new directives, which instruct government lawyers to stop denying Indigenous title, and treat Indigenous people with respect during any and all litigation.
Later that same day, the lead crown counsel representing the province on the Nuchatlaht title case told the nation and the Supreme Court that despite the new directives, the government would not alter its arguments and approach in this court case.
Despite the announcement, despite all the promises, the Horgan government will continue to deny Nuchatlaht title.
The Nuchatlaht have always been on their land. Their vision to restore it to abundance after a century of overexploitation is an exciting path forward. Environmental justice requires the return of land to Indigenous people and we should all stand with Nuchatlaht to that end.
Governments can easily tell their lawyers to stop opposing First Nations and denying title — in January 2019, former federal attorney general Judy Wilson-Raybould gave such instructions to federal lawyers. Canada is named in the Nuchatlaht case and its lawyers are in the courtroom, but they’re not aggressively fighting against the nation like the BC government is.
After countless promises on Indigenous rights and DRIPA action plan, the Horgan NDP government continues to use the same same outdated and colonial approach to fight the Nuchatlaht Nation.
It’s time for this to end. Write your letter today.
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