B.C. court rejects bid to cancel century-old Squamish Nation amalgamation

Capilano Indian Nation chief had asked court to declare that its nation is separate and apart from the Squamish Nation

A bid to cancel a 100-year-old amalgamation of Indigenous bands that resulted in the formation of the Squamish Nation has been dismissed by the B.C. Supreme Court.

In July 1923 a collection of chiefs in Vancouver and the surrounding area petitioned the Department of Indian Affairs to come together as one band, to be known as the Squamish Nation.

The Chief of Capilano at the time was one of the signatories to the petition, which was approved by the federal government.

But in May last year, Chief Donald Mathias of the Capilano Indian Nation filed a petition in B.C. Supreme Court seeking a number of orders.

He asked the court to cancel the amalgamation and declare that the Capilano Indian Nation is a nation separate and apart from the Squamish Nation.

Mathias also alleged that the Squamish Nation had misappropriated funds that should have been allocated to the petitioners and continues to develop significant business opportunities generating revenues that are not being properly shared.

The Squamish Nation applied to have the petition dismissed but in a decision released in September, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Jasmin Ahmad allowed the misappropriation allegation against the Squamish Nation to proceed.

In a second court decision released in January, following an application by the federal Crown, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Shelley Fitzpatrick found that she did not have the jurisdiction to hear the amalgamation issue as it should be a matter dealt with by the Federal Court of Canada.

The effect of the two court decisions is that the issues surrounding the misappropriation allegations can proceed in B.C. Supreme Court but the attempt to cancel the amalgamation will not go ahead in that court.

Robert Janes, a lawyer for the Squamish Nation, said he didn’t know whether Mathias will proceed to Federal Court but noted that there’s a 30-day limitation in Federal Court and added that with a 100-year-old amalgamation, there’s going to be “immediate problems” having the matter heard at the Federal Court.

Janes said as far as the Squamish Nation is concerned, there is no longer a Capilano Band and as for the misappropriation allegation, he said that there is no merit to that claim.

“And of course the Squamish Nation has to and does publish its financial statements every year and it has to pass a budget law every year, which it does. So there’s no secrecy either about the Squamish Nation’s plans in terms of its spending.”

Andrew Rogerson, a lawyer for Mathias and the Capilano, said in an interview that his client believes that the 1923 agreement was just an arrangement by the federal government to more effectively administer moneys going to the bands.

And he said Mathias believes they were “cheated” by the deal and have been trying to get out of it since the 1940s.

Rogerson, who is arguing that the Federal Court is a “creature of statute” and not an appropriate court to deal with the issues with the B.C. Supreme Court much better suited to handle the issues, added that he expects there will be appeals of both decisions.

Article source is the Vancouver Sun. Click here to read the original post.