Closing arguments begin in Nuchatlaht rights claim involving Nootka Island | Globalnews.ca

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The lawyer for a First Nation fighting for title to part of Nootka Island in British Columbia said in his closing argument Tuesday that the underlying objective of the court proceeding is reconciliation.

Jack Woodward said the province missed its opportunity and has instead placed “the burden of reconciliation squarely on the court,” in a test for the landmark 2014 Tsilhqot’in Aboriginal title decision by the Supreme Court of Canada.

The lawsuit filed by the Nuchatlaht First Nation in B.C. Supreme Court in 2017 asserts that the B.C. and federal governments denied Nuchatlaht rights by authorizing logging and “effectively dispossessing” the nation of territory on Vancouver Island’s west coast.

The B.C. government denies that the Nuchatlaht hold Aboriginal title over the 230-square-kilometre area, including parts of Nootka Island, and says it has met its obligations under agreements with the nation related to forest resources.

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Woodward argues the Nuchatlaht occupied and used the claimed area before and during 1846, when the Crown asserted sovereignty over what is now B.C.

Supporters of the claim rallied outside the court complex in Vancouver before closing arguments began.

© 2022 The Canadian Press

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