After 160 years, Williams Lake First Nation (“WLFN”) is one step closer to obtaining justice for its unlawful eviction from the community’s village lands at the current City of Williams Lake.
On April 25, 2022, WLFN Chief and Council announced they had reached an agreement-in-principle with the Government of Canada regarding the settlement of WLFN’s claim for $135 million. The claim is for Canada’s failure to protect the WLFN village located at the foot of Williams Lake—the site of a village that sustained Williams Lake First Nation people since time immemorial and at the time of the arrival of Europeans.
If ratified by WLFN members on June 29, 2022, the settlement will resolve a specific claim for the stolen land initiated by the Nation in 1994. While Canada initially rejected the claim in 1995, over the next twenty-seven years, WLFN never gave up, taking their case to the Indian Claims Commission, the Specific Claims Tribunal, the Federal Court of Appeal, and the Supreme Court of Canada, to finally win justice for its members.
“Our people were unlawfully displaced from lands where they had resided for thousands of years. We lost our homes, we lost our burial sites, we lost our spiritual sites, we lost lands that were critical for our sustenance and survival,” WLFN Councillor Chris Wycotte explains. “What Canada did was wrong, and they made us battle through every tribunal and court in this country to obtain justice. It took almost thirty years to do this, and it cost our community hundreds of thousands of dollars to fight this fight, but it’s gratifying to be in a place where we can now offer some form of resolution to our people.”
Mandell Pinder LLP celebrates WLFN’s hard-fought victory and looks forward to its continuing success in the pursuit of justice.
For more information see WLFN’s Village Site Claim website.