K’ómoks First Nation wins precedent-setting case regarding land management

Court case surrounded eviction of tenants who refused to vacate property after termination of lease

  • Oct. 10, 2018 11:30 a.m.

The K’ómoks First Nation (KFN) is the first Indigenous community to win a provincial court case this September, which confirmed their rights to manage their own lands and resources and have their laws enforced and upheld.

After a lengthy 10 months in court, KFN successfully prosecuted private criminal charges against a couple that had been trespassing on KFN Lands under the KFN’s land code. The couple had their lease terminated in December of 2017. Despite being asked to leave, and being served a letter of trespass issued by the Chief, they remained in the home from that time until Oct. 2. They made no payments to the owner of the home, and in those 11 months and have done extensive damage to the home as well as the property, which is owned by the Nation.

“It was extremely frustrating,” said K’omoks Chief Nicole Rempel. “They flat out refused to leave. We contacted the RCMP numerous times. We had meetings at a Chief and Council level with the RCMP, and they refused to uphold the law, because the land code wasn’t a law they were familiar with.”

Even though they were now trespassers under the KFN land code, local RCMP and Crown prosecutors didn’t know how to get involved.

Following a guilty verdict issued on Sept. 25, they were given until the sentencing date of Oct. 2 to remove their belongings and evacuate the home. At sentencing they were given a $1,000 fine each, as well as six months’ probation.

“I’m extremely happy that the provincial court decided that this was something we could uphold,” Rempel said. “Hopefully, we don’t have to go through the court again. Hopefully, the relevant authorities recognize the law and uphold it the way they’re supposed to. This verdict is a great advancement in recognition of first nations laws and a win in our advancement in self-government.”

The KFN Land Code is the result of the First Nations Land Management Act enacted in 1999, which gave First Nations the authority to write their own laws for managing land and resources. However, the ability to create their own laws did not necessarily mean the RCMP would uphold those laws, which led the Nation to apply to the courts to conduct a private criminal prosecution of current tenants, without the usual assistance from police and the Crown.

 

Just Posted

Where do Campbell River council candidates stand on municipal tax increases?

Differing views on how too keep taxes down – or whether that is even possible

Campbell River candidates shovel their way through snow removal question

How do the candidates feel about the city’s current snow removal policies and what would they change?

Confusion in Campbell River on first day of cannabis legalization

Some users puzzled as dispensaries close just before pot becomes legal across Canada

Aquaman star spotted around Campbell River as production ramps up on See

Jason Momoa, best known for his role in Game of Thrones, is in town to film television series

VIDEO: This is what buying legal pot in B.C. looks like

Take a look inside B.C.’s first and only legal pot shop located in Kamloops

B.C. NDP retreats again on empty-home tax for urban areas

Rate reduced for all Canadians, dissident mayors to get annual meeting

B.C. woman looks to reduce stigma surrounding weed-smoking moms

Shannon Chiarenza, a Vancouver mom of two, started weedmama.ca to act as a guide for newcomers to legal cannabis, specifically mothers

B.C. teen gives away tickets to Ellen Degeneres show, plans O Canada welcome

The Grade 9 student wanted to give away tickets in the spirit of inclusivity

Canada’s top general takes aim at new reports of military sexual assault

Gen. Jonathan Vance is unhappy some troops continue to ignore his order to cease all sexual misconduct

Ignoring climate change poses potential catastrophe for B.C.

Fisheries scientist says ‘extraordinary challenges’ in water management lie ahead

B.C. grow ops left in legal weeds post-legalization

“I think people are going to get a big surprise that it’s not going to change things much.”

Driving with dope: Police talk rules on cannabis in the car

Even though pot is legal, you can’t smoke in the car

B.C. teens fined for possession of pot on legalization day

The pair received $230 fines for smoking pot in public

Most Read