Vaughn Palmer: First Nations hope B.C. won’t appeal key treaty ruling in B.C. Supreme Court, Opinion: Appeal likely as ruling could affect completion of the Site C dam project by Vaughn Palmer, Jul 08, 2021, Vancouver Sun
VICTORIA — The Blueberry River First Nations is calling on the New Democrats to come to the negotiating table rather than appeal a treaty rights victory over natural gas drilling and other industrial development in Northeast B.C.
“An appeal would be pointless and would just delay solutions to the problem,” That’s the reason Horgan and NDP would appeal – delay lets industry keep raping. BC NDP has made it clear they serve themselves and multinationals, and let companies, mostly foreign owned, use our RCMP as their private for profit goons. said Chief Marvin Yahey in a news release Thursday. “Our treaty hasn’t been honoured for many years, but we hope the government will now do the right thing and work with us to protect our lands and wildlife and find a balance for treaty rights and an economic future.”
He urged negotiations on a balanced land management regime to protect the environment while allowing some development.
“We are not looking to shut down industry or impact the communities that depend on resource development – many of our members work in industry to provide for their families. We support the responsible development of resources when done in a way that respects our land, our waters and ensures we can continue our way of life. There is plenty of work for everyone if this is done the right way.”
Marking the win along with Yahey were leaders of four other nations in the Treaty 8 group.
Together they gathered on the steps of the courthouse in downtown Vancouver. Last week, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Emily Burke issued a landmark finding that successive B.C. governments had repeatedly infringed Blueberry’s 120-year-old treaty rights to hunt, fish, trap and pursue its way of life.
Burke ruled the province “may not continue to authorize activities that breach the promises included in the treaty – including the province’s honourable and fiduciary obligations associated with the treaty — or that unjustifiably infringe on Blueberry’s exercise of its treaty rights.”
She suspended the order for six months to give the parties time to “expeditiously negotiate changes to the regulatory regime that recognize and respect treaty rights.”
She warned the province that she expects it “to comply with the direction that it not authorize activities in a way that infringes treaty rights. … The parties now have the opportunity to incorporate these rights more specifically in regulating the management of the land.” Hint, hint.
Burke’s findings are exhaustive, running to some 462 pages, grounded in 160 days of testimony and thousands of pages of documents.
While no court decision is appeal-proof, the Supreme Court of Canada has twice sided with B.C. trial court judges in recent years over second-guessing by the B.C. Court of Appeal.
One was the Tsilhqot’in aboriginal title case, the other was the finding that the B.C. Liberal government trampled the bargaining rights of the BC Teachers’ Federation. Burke cited the latter high court override in bolstering a point in her own judgment.
But as the New Democrats choose between accepting Blueberry’s invitation to negotiate and trying their luck in the appeal court, there’s a complication involving Site C.
Blueberry’s claim focused mainly on the cumulative impacts of drilling for natural gas, harvesting timber, and building roads and pipelines. But also named were agriculture, mining and hydroelectric infrastructure.
The hydroelectric dam now under construction by B.C. Hydro at Site C on the Peace River is located within the territory asserted by Blueberry in court.
Another member of the Treaty 8 group, the West Moberly First Nations, assert that Site C is within their territory. Such overlaps are not uncommon among adjacent First Nations.
West Moberly Chief Roland Willson joined Yahey on the court house steps Thursday.
He reminded reporters that West Moberly is headed to court next year in its treaty rights case, where the claim of infringement is grounded on the construction of Site C and earlier hydroelectric dams on the Peace.
West Moberly’s case has many similarities to the one that Blueberry pursued and won, said Willson. He also noted that in a matter of weeks B.C. Hydro lawyers will be examining him under oath in the discovery portion of the pre-trial proceedings.
“How many times do we have to stand here and defend our treaty rights?” said Willson.
Infinitely, details laid out here: Canada’s Fickle Rule of Law: Comment on Blueberry River First Nations Cumulative Impacts Win by lawyer Robert Janes
Kukpi7 Christian@stsmamlt: Rule of Law under the colonial system is stacked against US it favours the rich man: “one law for the rich whiteman one law for the poor whiteman and yet another for the Indian” paraphrasing 1910 Memorial by our ancestral Chiefs still true today!!!
B.C. Hydro says it regards the Blueberry decision as significant and is studying the implications, not least for the granting of permits on Site C.
Some 481 of the approximately 600 permits required for Site C “have been received and are actively being managed,” according to Hydro’s latest progress report to the B.C. Utilities Commission.
Ninety of the 120 or so permits that remain to be issued are provincial, the rest federal. Some are critical, including those needed to proceed with filling the reservoir and completing construction of the generating station.
“All future permits are anticipated to be issued in accordance with the project construction schedule,” says Hydro. With a Nudge Nudge, Wink Wink? Whatever oil and gas and LNG multinationals want, no matter the impacts, what is destroyed or how many women and children are raped in the process?
Not clear how that can be squared with Burke’s edict that government and its agencies cannot continue to “authorize activities that breach the promises included in the treaty.”
Even if B.C. Hydro were to continue a “see-you-in-court” approach with West Moberly, Blueberry claims that Site C permitting impacts its traditional territory and rights as well.
Only by appealing the Blueberry decision could the province put off having to deal with the impact on natural gas development, timber harvesting and Site C.
Not necessarily a just or even a prudent approach in the long run.
But too often B.C. governments have chosen to postpone the reckoning rather than accept the implications of court judgments in First Nations cases.
Refer also to:
Blueberry River elected Chief Marvin Yahey said last week’s ruling proves BC “failed” to protect his Nation’s treaty rights and that Treaty 8 signatory nations “will not accept anything less than full enforcement of our rights.”
Incredible Cumulative Impacts victory for Blueberry River First Nations: Yahey v. British Columbia. Will Horgan’s NDP appeal to let industry’s rapes continue another decade or more, notably with how slow the Supreme Court of Canada’s process is?
Looking to the lying Supreme Court of Canada *is* an impossible choice in our oil-patch-raped-and-polluted country, but there is no other choice. Thank you Beaver Lake Cree Nation, for making it. Many of our top court judges were put there by Steve Harper, oil patch lover and Charter hater, and will be there a long while.
BC Tap Water Alliance Press Release: Blueberry River First Nations vs Govt BC Trial Evidence Says: 91 percent of Blueberry territory lands are within 500 m of an industrial disturbance, primarily oil and gas.
Specific Claims Tribunal found Canadian government breached its obligations to First Nations when it botched a 1948 land swap. Blueberry & Doig First Nations win “75-year-old legal battle” over access to oil & gas beneath their reserves
Chief Marvin Yahey and Blueberry River First Nations files lawsuit against British Columbia Government, Believed to be first case based on cumulative impact of numerous developments, including hydraulic fracturing