Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs

Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs

March 15, 2005 02:30 ET


Attention: Assignment Editor, Business/Financial Editor, Environment Editor, News Editor, Government/Political Affairs Editor PORT ALBERNI, BC--(CCNMatthews - March 15, 2005) - On March 11, 2005 Madam Justice Ross refused to issue an injunction against the sale from Weyerhaeuser to Brascan of approximately 70,000 hectares of fee simple land within the Hupacasath Traditional Territory.

Madam Justice Ross found that in the three pronged tests for injunctions, that Hupacasath met two of the three tests. She found that there was a serious issue to be tried, that issue being the Minister having notice of Hupacasath's existence of aboriginal rights and title and the contemplated action of removing 70,000 hectares of private lands from Tree Farm License 44 could adversely affect Hupacasath rights and title and whether the Crown failed to discharge its obligation to consult and accommodate in the circumstances.

Madam Justice Ross did find there was irreparable harm in that the actions of the Minister when he removed the lands from one regulatory regime, the Forest Act, into the Private Forest Lands Management Act which has lesser environmental standards with no need to consult with the Hupacasath. At page 22 of her judgment, Madam Justice Ross states, "in my view, the petitioners (Hupacasath) have demonstrated, in the combination of the change in the regulatory regime, with the corresponding decrease in regulatory control and the change in ownership, a harm, or the potential for harm which is by its nature difficult to quantify in monetary terms or potentially beyond cure."

The court on the balance of convenience test chose the $1.2 billion dollar deal over the irreparable harm caused to the Hupacasath. The issue of business certainty was the court's prevailing concern. "It is a shame that the court failed to recognize that our land, our resources and our ability to exercise our rights are priceless and invaluable. Our children's legacy which is supposed to be protected within Canada'a constitution under Section 35 is at risk of being forever destroyed. When does business certainty have priority over constitutionally protected rights ?" said Chief Councillor Judith Sayers upon reading the judgment. "The court did not understand that we did not want to stop the entire sale, we only wanted more time for the Crown to reconsider the classification of those lands (70,000 hectares) that are contained within the area of our pending lawsuit."

The trial of this matter is scheduled for 7 days starting May 2, 2005 and the court will determine whether the Minister should have consulted and accommodated the Hupacasath prior to removing the Private lands. IN: ENVIRONMENT, FORESTRY, JUSTICE, POLITICS, SOCIAL

Contact Information

  • Judith Sayers, Chief Councillor, Hupacasath First Nation
    Primary Phone: 250-720-9328
    E-mail: judith@hupacasath.ca