The Nuchatlaht Tribe Case – One year later
By Jack Woodward
The reason for this is to shorten the trial and reduce the expense. The Province was threatening to introduce a huge amount of evidence about “infringement”, and this would have made the trial very lengthy, and would have cost too much.
The “Claim Area” is a portion of Nootka Island which is shown on a map attached to our Notice of Civil Claim. We made a small amendment to the Claim Area in December, to remove some land which Philip Drucker had not included when he wrote his famous anthropological study published in 1951. We would have had more difficulty proving the areas not included by Drucker, so, to save time and expense we are not claiming those areas.
All of the Defendants have taken the opportunity to file amended Responses to our new Claim.
I arranged a case management conference with our judge, Justice Myers, on February 20th. All the lawyers for the Defendants attended, and some important decisions about the future of the case were made.
Firstly, an important group of pre-trial procedural matters will be heard by the court the week of April 23rd. This will be a public court hearing at the main courthouse at 800 Smithe Street in Vancouver, and all Nuchatlaht people are welcome to attend. The hearing will last 3 to 5 days.
Here are some of the matters to be decided the week of April 23rd:
1. Motion to strike. We think that some of the issues raised by the other parties in their pleadings are irrelevant to Nuchatlaht’s title claim and would only waste everyone’s time in court. For example, the Province wants to call evidence that Nuchatlaht Nations is “small and weak”. We say this is not a proper pleadings, and we will be asking the court to delete those portions of the pleadings so that we can focus on what really matters.
2. List of documents. The province of B.C. does not believe that we have provided a complete list of documents, and is asking the Court to force us to find more documents. In fact, we have already given B.C. all our documents, so it is a mystery what they want us to do. Invent documents we don’t have? We shall see.
3. Crown documents. The Province says they have 64,000 documents that might be relevant to the case, and they need time to review them all to see what they want to use at trial. I told the judge I can’t think of even one document they might have that might be relevant, and so far, the province has not shown us even one relevant document. Anyway, the province is asking the court for more time to look at documents. If they are successful it will delay the trial.
4. Particulars. The Province wants us to clarify some points in our Claim. This is called a demand for Particulars. Here is an example of what the Province wants: “What is the Nuchatlaht definition of a “community of Aboriginal people”?
On April 23rd we will tell the Judge that this is something settled by previous judges, and the Nuchatlaht are not required to come up with a “definition” in order to advance the case. Basically, we think this kind of request by the Province is not genuine, but is a tactic to stall the case.
I look forward to seeing some of you at the court hearing on April 23rd if you can make it.
Kleko, Kleko, Jack Woodward
Report from the Office of Nuchatlaht Waters, Lands and Cultural Resources
By Karenn Bailey
Councilor Archie Little attended meetings with me and from him I learned how Nuchatlaht respectfully harvested, shared and traded natural resources historically, and how the Nation wishes to move forward into the future. From you I need to know what resources you want and how much to harvest. I encourage you all to attend the Strategic Land Use planning sessions Norine Messer has planned or contract her or myself directly so we can create a land use plan that identifies what you want from your resources today and for your children's grandchildren and beyond.
The fisheries meetings involved First Nations only (Tier 1), and First Nations and DFO (Tier 2). Not surprising, the presentations by DFO did not show abundance of any stock, rather there was graph after graph of downward trends and little solutions offered. There were apologies by DFO members, acknowledgement of Indigenous Rights in the Canadian Charter sec. 35.1 and a genuine interest expressed to work collaboratively for the benefit of the resources. As Councilor Archie says "there is a crack in the door", which shows some willingness and positive change in government staff to their approach to working with First Nations, but no real positive change in the populations of fish and shellfish. DFO presented some good science and acknowledged more had to be collected, including Traditional Ecological Knowledge.
While fish stocks have been declining, many of our First Nation neighbors have been building capacity to collect data and take on restoration and stewardship activities and increasingly challenge DFO methods and results holding government accountable. NTC Regional Biologist Roger Dunlop challenged the DFO on how they calculate their salmon spwaner return estimates and has and continues to conduct research on this. Under the direction of your Chief and Council I am working to develop plans, find funds and training in order to grow the fisheries capacity of your nation. With your input we can build a long range plan for resources together.
What I have to report to you from these meeting is that the outlook in the nearshore is not great. Prawns in Nuchatlaht waters were overharvested three years ago and populations have not recovered. Green crabs brought from other parts of the world are damaging eel grass beds which are a nursery and home for many native fish and the aquatic critters they forage on. Long-lived (~40 years) Yellow Eye rockfish are now so few that strategies to bring them back from the brink may take more than one human lifetime and the harvest of halibut is often limited by the number of endangered rockfish that are also caught during halibut fishing. At sea environmental factors continue to puzzle fisheries managers and affect the survival rates of salmon and other harvest species that cross international boundaries.
The good news is that there are fisheries reviews underway and legal challenges that will support aboriginal involvement in fisheries management including cross-border species like halibut. This year you will see an agreement for the management of Fraser River salmon equally split between First Nations and DFO. Locally here on Vancouver Island the Council of Ha'wiih was successful in influencing the closure of the herring fishery which will help the population recover. Nuchatlaht will harvest qwak'mis this year and the beaches have provided a calm harvest in past months. Opportunities for community members to participate in future harvests and learn traditional methods of processing are planned, and you can expect postings for fisheries workers and training in the months ahead.
Increased Traffic near Oclucje / Zeballos Forest Service Road
We have been notified that Western Forest Products (WFP) will have increased traffic coming through the road from Zeballos to our roadway heading to Oclucje. So, this is a heads up for people residing in Oclucje or anyone wanting to go through this road. Increased logging traffic is to be expected starting late March 2018 and pushing into the month of April 2018. Be careful on the roads and drive with care.
New Names for Two Roads
Nuchatlaht Tribe is currently obtaining a license of occupation so that they can replace the main bridge into Oclucje Reserve. Part of this application required Nuchatlaht Tribe to name two roads. These two roads are the road that comes into Oclucje from the Zeballos Forest Service Road, and the road that goes towards our dock.
With help from Ron Hamilton and with Tyee Ha’wilth Walter Michael’s blessings, the two roads were given the following names:
1) T'ashii-is 2) Waaykaash.
According to Ron the names mean the following:
1. T'ashii-is = The Way To
2. Waaykaash = Praise
T'ashii'is will be the name of the road coming in from the highway
Waaykaash will be the name of the road going towards the dock
Wi-Fi Can Reach Everywhere in the Band Office
On September 6th, 2017, Nuchatlaht’s wifi (internet) finally reached all parts of the band office. Previously, the Wi-Fi could barely reach Jordan’s and Archie's office due to the weak Wi-Fi extender the band used. This couldn’t be possible without the advancement in technology, and the help of our IT whiz, Bryan M.
Now when visitors come to the band office, they will not have any connectivity issues. This is a small but great success that Nuchatlaht Tribe is proud of.
Fire Escape Plan Workshop
On September 27th, 2017, Nuchatlaht Tribe hosted a Fire Escape Plan workshop where participants learned about the importance of Fire Escape Plans and then created one for their household. After the workshop was done, the participants requested that further workshops be delivered on a quarterly (every 3 months) basis that focuses on the following topics:
1. Different types of fires and how to extinguish them out;
2. Prevention of household fires; and
3. Fire escape drills
This is important that Nuchatlaht Tribe continue to deliver these workshops as the Village of Zeballos is not legally obligated to extinguish fires for us; therefore, we need to have the tools to prevent and extinguish fires ourselves.
Here is the Fire escape plan that we created so that our guests have a better understanding of where to go when a fire occurs
Shrimp Boil (recipe)
The 2017 Annual Nuchatlaht Tribe Camp-out @ Nuchatlitz
2017 41st BC Elders Gathering in Campbell River
For more than 4 decades, The First Nations Elders have gathered around to meet in distinct locations all around mainland BC and Vancouver Island.
This years 41st annual Elders Gathering was hosted in Campbell River, BC at the Strathcona Gardens Recreational Center where approximately 3,000 attendees from different nations from all over British Columbia came to visit, exchange memories and knowledge, to create new friendships and renew old ones.
The annual gatherings help give an opportunity to increase point of view on how other First Nations live. Although small, Nuchatlaht Tribe walked among several neighboring tribes. We hope more of our members are available to attend Elders Gathering events in the future.
The Nuchatlaht Title Claim – Where Are We in the Case?
By: Jack Woodward
Last month, I wrote an article in this newsletter introducing the important Nuchatlaht title claim. This is an update on what stage the case is at, and what you can expect in the future.
As of May 19th, all parties to the lawsuit have now filed their “pleadings”. Pleadings are court documents in which the parties set out their version of the facts. Canada, BC, and Western Forest Products (WFP) are the opposing parties, and none of them admitted that the Nuchatlaht historically used or occupied the claim area to the extent needed to prove Aboriginal Title. But Canada did at least admit that the present-day Nuchatlaht are the descendants of the same Aboriginal group that existed in 1846, the year that the Nuchatlaht territory was included in the country that is now called Canada. This helps.
Now that the pleadings are filed, here are some of the upcoming steps in the case:
1. Motion to strike. We think that some of the issues raised by the other parties in their pleadings are irrelevant to Nuchatlaht’s title claim and would only waste everyone’s time in court. Consequently, we intend to bring a “motion to strike” – essentially, asking the court to delete those portions of the pleadings so that we can focus on what really matters.
2. List of documents. The parties need to file their lists of documents that they intend to rely on in court. Currently, this step is due to be completed by June 24th, although it is very likely that the opposing parties will ask for extensions of time.
3. Applying for court dates. We need to apply to the court to nail down the dates when this case will be heard. This involves trying to find a slot in the court’s schedule when they have time to hear us.
Optimistically, we hope that might get dates as early as April to June, 2018, but this very much depends on the availability of judges and other factors outside of our control.
Tiny but mighty: The Nuchatlaht Tribe is providing leadership to other First Nations in British Columbia by showing that it is possible for any band, however small, to get into court and begin asserting their legal rights.
In the next newsletter I will discuss some of the important historical and scientific evidence that proves that the Nuchatlaht are the rightful owners of these beautiful lands.
Nuchatlaht Dialect Signs
By: Mason Ducharme
In May 2017, Nuchatlaht Tribe picked up eight (8) signs written in Nuchatlaht dialect to help reintroduce the Nuchatlaht language into the community. These signs were funded through surplus dollars from the FPCC Language Revitalization Program.
The following are the words on the signs:
1. hišumyiły̓ak - community hall
2. mamuquwiłukʔi nučaaƛʔatḥ - Nuchatlaht Band
3. Officeƛ̓ayaʕasuwił - greenhouse
4. ʔumč̓aaquwił - (indoor) gym, recreational centre
5. ʔumč̓aaʕasy̓ak - playground, playing field
6. wiinapuʔi Stop! (such as on a stop sign)
If you know how to correctly pronounce these Nuchatlaht words, there is an opportunity for you. Nuchatlaht Tribe is currently seeking someone who can pronounce these words, and is willing to be recorded via video on the pronunciation. The video would then be shared on our Facebook page, and other social media accounts. If you, or someone you know can do this, please email Mason Ducharme at email@example.com. An honorarium will be presented to the person upon completion of services.
Nuchatlaht Tribe Staff Retreat
By: Mason Ducharme
On June 7-8, your Nuchatlaht Tribe staff will be at the Cluxewe Resort which is located in between Port McNeill and Port Hardy for an annual staff retreat. The staff will be leaving Oclucje reserve at 1:00pm on June 6th. The staff will be leaving the Cluxewe Resort on June 9th first thing in the morning.
The focus of this year’s annual staff retreat will focus on communication, professional writing, conflict resolution, and self-care. It is our hope that this retreat will provide the staff with tools to do their jobs more effectively, and the tools they need to achieve a healthy work-life balance.
During this time, you can contact your band manager Mason Ducharme at 250-204-5908, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org , if you have any questions or concerns. This also means that any payments will not be processed until we return back to work on Monday, June 12th, 2017.
I appreciate your support in allowing us to take some time out of the office to better serve you.
Record Breaking 2016-2017 Audit
By Mason Ducharme
Every year, Nuchatlaht Tribe and other First Nations are required to undergo annual audits in accordance with their funding agreements. Audits for Nuchatlaht Tribe in the past took 72-96 hours to complete. For this year’s 2016-2017 audit, it was completed in less than 24 hours.
The auditors arrived on Tuesday, May 23rd at 1:00 pm, and they left on Wednesday, May 24th at 12:00 pm. The reason that the audit was completed quicker than previous years is that my staff was much more organized this year. This is a huge success for Nuchatlaht Tribe, and I am very proud of them and this accomplishment.
Cheque Processing and Distribution
While the band manager was covering the bookkeeper for two weeks, the band manager noticed that the bookkeeper can get swamped with “urgent” payment requests that added unneeded stress. This is not good for business.
Therefore, a new process is being introduced to ensure that things run smoothly in the day-to-day band operations. From now on, requests for payments will only be accepted no later than Thursday at 3:00pm. Payments will then be issued every Monday.
Payments include the following:
Patient travel; and
Other accounts payable
Here is a process diagram to help provide a better understanding of the new process:
Here is a calendar to provide a visual on the dates and times which each process must occur by:
If someone submits a payment request after 3:00pm on June 1st (or any other Thursday), the person’s payment will not be processed until the following Thursday’s process date – in this case June 8th, and therefore, they will not receive payment until the Monday following the Thursday’s process date – in this case June 12th.
The Nuchatlaht Title Claim – What's it about?
By Jack Woodward, QC
On January 20 this year, the Nuchatlaht First Nation filed a lawsuit asking the BC Supreme Court to declare that the Nuchatlaht have Aboriginal title to their traditional territories on part of Nootka Island and surrounding areas. The lawsuit also asks the Court to declare that current government-approved logging activities in the claim area infringe Nuchatlaht’s title, and to grant an injunction to stop the logging.
What is Aboriginal title? It is a legal recognition that the Nuchatlaht have occupied their traditional territories since before Canada became a nation, and that Nuchatlaht owns the lands and resources and can decide how to use them. In the 2014 Tsilhqot’in case, the Supreme Court of Canada described Aboriginal title in this way:
"Aboriginal title confers ownership rights… including: the right to decide how the land will be used; the right of enjoyment and occupancy of the land; the right to possess the land; the right to the economic benefits of the land; and the right to pro-actively use and manage the land."
In practical terms, if the Nuchatlaht are successful in establishing title, the government would be expected to seek Nuchatlaht’s consent before making decisions that might negatively affect their title lands (such as logging approvals). It would also confirm that Nuchatlaht, not the government, owns the resources on those lands and has the right to benefit from them.
Currently, the BC government is permitting Western Forest Products to go into Nuchatlaht’s traditional territories and cut down and remove trees. Not only is this damaging the land and removing its wealth in order to enrich an outside corporation, there is also evidence that a large number of culturally modified trees are being cut down, destroying irreplaceable archaeological evidence of Nuchatlaht’s cultural history.
If the Nuchatlaht prove title to these lands, they could insist that any logging activities take place in locations and on terms that are acceptable to them. They could even take over logging operations themselves, or prohibit further logging. It’s your decision – that is the point of Aboriginal title, and that is what this lawsuit is about. You, not the government, get to decide what happens with your lands.
I am honoured to represent the Nuchatlaht people in this important lawsuit. I will give you updates as we move through the process.
Staff Appreciation Day at Nuchatlitz
By Mason Ducharme
On Wednesday, April 12, 2017, the Nuchatlaht Tribe staff went on Nuchatlaht’s Sportfishing Charter boat to tour Nuchatlaht ha-ha-hoolthee (traditional territory), and visit Ka:’yu:’k’t’h’ in honor of staff appreciation day.
Nuchatlaht Tribe’s Tyee Ha’wilth (Head Chief) Walter Michael and Band Manager Mason Ducharme, agreed that there should be a day to show appreciation for Nuchatlaht Tribe’s staff continued hard work in serving the Nuchatlaht membership. Nuchatlaht Tribe’s staff does the work they do because they care about their members, however, often, they encounter upset members which can be quite draining and demotivating. Therefore, it was decided that an appreciation day would occur to lift the staff and acknowledge all of the hard work that they do for the members.
Staff appreciation day was a success. On this day, we saw 20+ eagles, 5 humpback whales, 20+ seals, and 10+ sea otters. It was also Mason Ducharme’s (band manager) and Bailee's (community liaison) first time in Ka:’yu:’k’t’h’. The boat ride explored the Nuchatlalht ha-ha-hoolthee boundary lines at Rugged Point and the Waterfall. It was everyone’s first time at the waterfall. For lunch time, everyone went to Nuchatlitz and had a wiener roast -- this was Bailee’s first time at Nuchatlitz.
I would like to thank our members for allowing us to take one day off from the office to show our appreciation for our staff for their continued hard work. It is my hope that the staff are feeling appreciated and recuperated to continue servicing our members.
Family Gathering in Oclucje
On Friday 7th,
Two vehicles traveled from Penticton with Vera Michael, Emory Sr, Kevin, & baby Jakobe in one vehicle, and Emory Jr, his wife, Jennifer, plus 3 of their children; Evelyn, Angel, and Matson.
The next day Vera and her family went over to Walter Michael's (Tyee Ha'wilth) place for brunch. Lots of precious memories were shared as Walter pulled out lots of photo albums to reminisce the past. After brunch, the birthday boy, Emory Jr, Jennifer and their family went fishing with Curtis Michael, Helena Michael, Jord Michael, and Stan Harry on Felix & Rose-Ann Michael's boat. After fishing they traveled to Nuchatlitz. Vera had stayed on the boat as she said "I would not have got back on the boat".
Once they returned back to Oclucje they gathered at the Nuchatlaht Tribe community building with apporoximatly 80 other relatives-- from all over the Nuu-chah-nulth territory-- to share a dinner provided by the community, the volunteers and Vera's family. This blessed event spent with various families was also to celebrate Emory Jr's birthday. He is now 39 years old.
Nuchatlaht Title Claim Announcement in Vancouver
(Coast Salish Territory/Vancouver, B.C. – January 20, 2017)While on the steps of the Supreme Court in Vancouver, the Tyee Ha’wilth (Hereditary Head Chief), Walter Michael, of the Nuchatlaht First Nation declared his Nation will be seeking an official recognition of the rights and titles held solely and respectively by Nuchatlaht for thousands of years. The Nuchatlaht First Nation has about 160 members and a small reserve.
There are several historic village sites in the area where members and their ancestors gathered food and sheltered throughout the seasons, so getting full land title recognition would better benefit the tribe as a whole.
“Nuchatlaht has spent many frustrating years of discussions at the treaty table and other processes trying to protect our lands and the health of our people,” said hereditary chief Walter Michael in a statement.
Located in a once pristine area on the West Coast of Vancouver Island, the Nuchatlaht tribe have continuously and exclusively occupied their territory and maintained their traditional hereditary government. Successive generations of Nuchatlaht Ha’wiih (Chiefs) have refused to surrender their title and the Nuchatlaht people have defended their territory with arms in ancient times.
After decades of futile efforts, the Ha’wilth has sought the assistance of the same legal team that was so successful in the recent landmark Aboriginal Title Supreme Court victory of the Tsilhqot’in Nation in Central B.C.
When the first European explorers arrived in Nuchatlaht territory, they observed and recognized Nuchatlaht ownership and governance and paid tribute to their Ha’wiih. Until the arrival of these early foreign visitors and the interference of modern governments, Nuchatlaht Ha’wiih intensely managed and protected all land and aquatic resources within their exclusive territory.
Tyee Ha’wilth Michael declared “These governments need to hear from the court system to allow us to restore and protect our ancestral lands for the benefit of all future generations.”
2016-2017 Fiscal Year Successes for Nuchatlaht Tribe
By Mason Ducharme
The 2016-2017 Fiscal Year is from April 1st, 2016 to March 31st, 2017. The fiscal year is the year which Nuchatlaht Tribe operates for accounting and reporting purposes. While there are always challenges, I believe that it is important to focus on the successes. Therefore, I decided to write a short article about some of the successes that Nuchatlaht Tribe experienced this fiscal year. I hope that you enjoy the following list of successes:
1. The introduction of a revised budgeting practice that ensured that the numbers entered were accurate and that there was Chief and council input in the budget development;
2. The reintroduction of the annual week camp-out at Nuchatlitz that occurred from August 1st-5th, 2016;
3. Nuchatlaht Tribe started the Nuchatlaht Tribe Sportfishing business in the summer of 2017 (more details can be found on out website);
4. The Nuchatlaht Tribe oyster farm was harvested which employed 3 Nuchatlaht Tribe members’
5. On January 20th, 2017, Nuchatlaht Tribe announced its Aboriginal Land title claim court case (more details can be viewed on our website)
6. The Nuchatlaht Tribe website was revamped to look more esthetically pleasing, and be more user-friendly;
7. Herring roe spawned in Nuchatlaht for the first time in 15 years, some of which was harvested by Stanley Harry and Jord Michael, and was distributed to Nuchatlaht members;
8. The Tyee transitioning process began;
9. Two traditional boundary signs (size: 10’ by 20’) were created by Vince Smith, which will be placed on Nuchatlaht’s boundary lines located at the waterfall, and Rugged Point in the 2017-2018 fiscal year’
10. Nuchatlaht Tribe created and adopted the following plans which can be viewed on our website: Communications plan, 5 Year Community Economic Development plan, Comprehensive Community plan, and the Language Revitalization plan.
The above are just some of my favorite successes for the 2016-2017 fiscal year. More successes will be shared in the 2016-2017 annual report which will be developed and distributed to members by summer of 2017. If you would like to have a copy of the annual report mailed to you, please provide your updated contact information to our Community Liaison at email@example.com