Huu-ay-aht receives $35.7 million Specific Claim | Ha-Shilth-Sa Newspaper

Huu-ay-aht receives $35.7 million Specific Claim

Anacala, BC

A Specific Claims Tribunal has found that Canada breached its fiduciary duty when it allowed a logging company to harvest timber on Huu-ay-aht’s IR 9 without a license.

In June 2020 the claim filed by Huu-ay-aht against Canada was accepted for negotiation in the Specific Claims process. This allows First Nations to file legal claims against the Government of Canada for failing to follow the Indian Act or for breaches of its fiduciary duty to protect the interests of First Nations in relation to their reserve lands or other assets, like timber. The Specific Claims process is an alternative to the often longer and more costly court proceedings.

According to Huu-ay-aht, the logging on Keeshan IR 9 took place in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Huu-ay-aht did the work to prove that the logging had a negative impact and cost to the nation.

“The second step was to determine how much compensation we should receive – we were able to convince the tribunal that the money would be used in the most beneficial way possible and we achieved our target,” said Sayaačatḥ, elected Chief John Jack.

At the November 2023 People’s Assembly, the HFN Government presented information that Canada acknowledged its breach of duty to Huu-ay-aht First Nations and has agreed to compensate the nation, a settlement value of $35,677, 814.

In a letter dated March 18, 2024 to Huu-ay-aht citizens, Chief Jack wrote, “We ae pleased to announce a significant development in the ongoing efforts to address historical grievances through the Specific Claims process. This announcement concerns a settlement between Huu-ay-aht First Nation and the Government of Canada regarding a specific claim filed by the Nation in 2007 regarding IR#9 logging.”

The letter goes on to outline how the settlement will be used for the benefit of Huu-ay-aht citizens. Starting with a $1,000 per citizen distribution, the nation plans to invest in new and existing HFN Government programs, infrastructure, loan repayment, economic development, the HFN Trust Fund and more.

Jack says that the nation has been planning for the past four or five years for the best way to use the settlement funds. He said some of it would be used to pay for Huu-ay-aht’s share of TFL 44, the Oomiiqusu Center in Port Alberni to support Huu-ay-aht mothers and their children, as well as for the maintenance and continued improvement of the Bamfield Road.

Some of the settlement will be used with an eye to future generations, like the $4.7 million going into the HFN Trust Fund and a capital investment of $500,000-600,000.

“The re-investment back into Huu-ay-aht finances will help our Nation succeed in the long term, the financial mechanism to hold the funds are being researched by our financial experts. The goal is to reinvest in the best financial management that will provide the most return,” said Jack in a letter to HFN citizens.

“We want to make sure that our government programs are topped up for the future,” said Jack.

He went on to say that the plan is to invest in the future for Huu-ay-aht citizens so that they have certainty for whenever they decide to move home.

Jack said he wants to help people create stability and certainty so that young Huu-ay-aht parents can raise their families and have a good life.

“Investing in the stability of the future is what I’m most proud of,” said Jack.

In his letter to HFN, Jack expressed gratitude for all that helped them reach the settlement.

“Together, we continue to strengthen our Nation and endure a just resolution for the challenges of the past,” he added. “We are trying to be good stewards of this money.”

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