First Nation Ups the Ante in Oil Sands Trial
Edmonton/Vancouver – The Beaver Lake Cree Nation, Treaty No. 6 is asking the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench to order Canada and Alberta to pay advance costs in a case that promises to be one of the most significant legal challenges to oil sands expansion in Canada.
Beaver Lake Cree Nation is suing Canada and Alberta for breaching Treaty rights to fish, hunt, trap, and gather plants and medicines by authorizing too much industrial development in Beaver Lake Cree traditional lands, “We have over 35,000 oil and gas sites on our territory, to the point where the land is fragmented beyond recognition,” said Beaver Lake Cree Nation Councillor Charlene Cardinal. “Further to that we have military facilities, agriculture, forestry and other development. Soon there won’t be anything left to harvest and hunt.”
The Beaver Lake Cree application, aimed at obtaining advance costs, is the same mechanism that enabled the Tsilhqot’in Nation to take their Aboriginal title case to the Supreme Court. It comes after two court decisions in favour of the northern Alberta First Nation and is aimed at expediting a case that has been stuck in the pre-trial stage since 2008, “The courts will consider making an order of advance costs in special public interest cases. We think this is a special enough case. It is a unique, precedent-setting case that focuses on the big picture of how multiple industrial developments are infringing on Treaty rights.” said Karey Brooks, legal counsel for Beaver Lake Cree.
“Canada and Alberta have denied that our Treaty affords us protection against cumulative effects; and they have drawn out these proceedings to the point where the delay is crippling our already financially strapped Nation. We’ve been embroiled in this litigation for ten years. Today we ask for an advance cost award to allow us to finally get to trial.” said Chief Germaine Anderson of Beaver Lake Cree. The Beaver Lake Cree Nation asserts their inherent right to self-determination and sovereignty, and affirms their right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent and it is through this assertion that they remind the governments of Alberta and Canada of their commitments. The Government of Alberta stated in their 2013 Policy on Consultation with First Nations on Land and Natural Resource Management, that they “will consult with First Nations when traditional uses have the potential to be adversely impacted by land and natural resource management decisions,” and that Canada understands that the process of reconciliation, including processes for negotiation and implementation of Treaties, need to be guided by the recognition and implementation of rights.
It is with these statements that the Beaver Lake Cree Nation are reminding Alberta and Canada to desist on their stall tactics and red tape in the Beaver Lake Cree Nation Vs. Alberta and Canada case.