Joint Statement from Ministers Wilson-Raybould and Bennett regarding Huu-ay-aht First Nation Litigation

Ottawa, September 6, 2017 - Today, the Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, and the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs, issued the following statement:

"No relationship is more important than Canada's relationship with Indigenous peoples. The Government of Canada is committed to advancing reconciliation with Indigenous peoples through a renewed, nation-to-nation, Inuit-Crown and government-to-government relationship based on the recognition of rights, respect, cooperation and partnership. To that end, we are committed to respectful litigation, targeted court interventions and reconciliation efforts that shape the conduct of Indigenous litigation.

"In several cases, Canada has made the decision not to appeal or seek judicial review, reflecting an acknowledgement of Canada's responsibility to redress past wrongs.

"On September 5, Canada withdrew its application for a judicial review of a Specific Claims Tribunal decision in Attorney General of Canada v Huu-ay-aht First Nation. This decision was made based on particular factors and circumstances specific to this particular case.

"Those particular factors and circumstances are unique and complex. Nonetheless, the Huu-ay-aht Nation has waited far too long for the Government of Canada to make amends for past wrongs - and while we disagree with the formula to award compensation determined by the Tribunal, the Government has taken this decision in the interest of moving past this case and advancing reconciliation.

"More generally, Canada believes the existing specific claims policy and process, including the question of equitable compensation, are not in keeping with a recognition of rights, or a reconciliation-based approach to addressing issues between the Crown and Indigenous peoples. Canada is working to completely overhaul the policy, in co-operation and collaboration with Indigenous Peoples, including working with the Assembly of First Nations. Some of that work will be done as part of the efforts of the Working Group of Ministers on the Review of Laws and Policies announced by the Prime Minister on February 22, 2017.

"Reforms to the specific claims policy and process will include consideration of the recommendations from the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples' report on the Specific Claims Process (Negotiation or Confrontation: It's Canada's Choice), the Office of the Auditor General report on Specific Claims, and other previous reviews of the process, including from the Report on the Review of Specific Claims Tribunal Act (the "Pelletier Report"), as well as the Principles respecting the Government of Canada's Relationship with Indigenous Peoples, and recent decisions of the Specific Claims Tribunal and the courts.

"We wish to acknowledge the leadership of Tayii Ḥaw̓ił Derek Peters of the Huu-ay-aht First Nation."

Associated Links

For more information, media may contact:

Kathleen Davis
Communications and Parliamentary Affairs Advisor
Office of the Minister of Justice

Sabrina Williams
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Carolyn Bennett

Media Relations
Department of Justice Canada