St’alaa Kun: Ruling calls into question Provincial commitment to Reconciliation
On July 5, 2018, the Supreme Court of British Columbia ruled on the stay of proceedings filed by the Haida Nation to stop Husby logging at St’alaa Kun. The request to stop logging was to ensure that the cedar forest in question remains intact until the Nation’s petition is heard on August 27, 2018. At the August hearing the Nation is asking for a judicial review of the approval process on five cedar-dominant blocks at St’alaa Kun. Those blocks did not receive consensus at the Haida/Province of BC Solutions Table which was established under the Kunst’aa Guu – Kunst’aayah Reconciliation Protocol, 2009 but were approved by the Province of BC.
In this most recent case, the court ruled on three legal concepts: Is this a “serious question to be tried”?; Will there be “irreparable harm” done?; and, the “balance of convenience”.
In his conclusion, Mr. Justice G.C. Weatherill found that the question asked by the Haida Nation did require serious consideration; that the Haida Nation demonstrated a reasonable likelihood that it will suffer irreparable harm if the “authorized” logging of the cutblocks takes place; but, the “balance of convenience,” which includes economic loss to Husby, rests in favour of Husby which overrides the previous two arguments, and so Justice Weatherill dismissed the Nation’s application.
“This ruling seriously undermines the Kunst’aa Guu – Kunst’aayah Reconciliation Protocol Agreement and again brings into question the Province of BC’s commitment to it,” said kil tlaats ‘gaa Peter Lantin, President of the Haida Nation. “We have been working in good faith with the Province to make good decisions for Haida Gwaii. But the Province’s overriding of non-consensus decisions at the Solutions Table was arrived at because of our concern for the sustainability of cedar. This move calls into question their commitment to reconciliation and consequently the honour of the Crown. We are seriously reconsidering our participation in these processes. This is another case of the off-island economic interests running over sustainability and it’s unacceptable.”
This ruling and the Nation’s options regarding the next steps at St’alaa Kun will be discussed at the Summer Seasonal Session being held at Gaw next week – July 12 & 13.