Environment: Current Problems

NL


November 3, 2017


Climate Change

Canadian Council of Ministers of the Envronment must include Indigenous views

Assembly of First Nations – First Nations must be full participants in all meetings of Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME) to ensure their voices are heard in environmental and climate change solutions.

“Reconciliation has to include respect for our Elder’s traditional knowledge and our understanding of the lands and waters, the animals and plant life. We have a central role to play in lawmaking in this area, and we have responsibilities to safeguard our traditional territories and our people. We hold valuable knowledge that can help everyone in maintaining a healthy environment for all our children.” The AFN has created the Advisory Committee on Climate Action and the Environment (ACCAE) and is currently establishing a network of climate coordinators across Canada. The Assembly is also working with First Nations Elders on the development of an Indigenous Knowledge policy that would support federal efforts to better respond to the impacts of climate change and other environment issues.

In his presentation to the CCME, the National Chief advanced three points:

  • Establish “regional tables” between First Nations and provinces and territories to ensure First Nation participation within the different regions;
  • First Nations’ law must also be accommodated and recognized, in addition to common law and civil law, when dealing with environment and climate change regulation and management as a way to express and share First Nations’ traditional knowledge and responsibilities to safe guard the lands, wildlife, waters, and resources;
  • First Nations must be involved as key players in the emerging economic industry for clean energy, adaptation, and mitigation.

March 26, 2021


Climate Change

Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act

The AFN, based on direction from the Chiefs-in-Assembly, intervened in this case, as well as court cases in Saskatchewan, Ontario and Alberta, arguing the Government of Canada has a direct legal obligation to recognize Aboriginal and Treaty rights in any legislative efforts to address climate change.


March 25, 2021


Climate Change

Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act

Supreme Court finds that the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act 2018 is constitutional.


March 25, 2021


Climate Change

Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act

Westaway Law Group – The majority judges noted that climate change “has had particularly serious effects on Indigenous peoples, threatening the ability of Indigenous communities in Canada to sustain themselves and maintain their traditional ways of life.” [para 11] They also acknowledged that, “the effects of climate change are and will continue to be experienced across Canada, with heightened impacts in the Canadian Arctic, coastal regions and Indigenous territories.” [para 12] These are important acknowledgements on the part of the Court, and no doubt had some impact on their assessment that the matters addressed in the GGPPA are matters of national concern.

Although the Court did not specifically make reference to s. 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982, as noted, the result is consistent with the evidence and arguments put forward on behalf of First Nation interveners.


October 20, 2020


Climate Change

Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act

Toronto Star – The Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) reserved judgement on whether the federal government’s Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act 2018 (GGPPA) is constitutional following hearings on September 22 and 23 with the United Chiefs and Councils of Mnidoo Mnising (UCCMM), along with the Anishinabek Nation (AN), granted intervener status.

The GGPPA sets minimum standards for carbon pricing on provinces that have not implemented an equivalent provincial program. The provinces argued that they should have control of greenhouse gas (GHG) policies while environmental advocates and other interveners asked the court to recognize the necessity of a national response to climate change.

“The UCCMM intervened in this case because climate change disproportionately affects First Nation communities, our traditional way of life and our ability to assert and exercise jurisdiction in relation to environmental issues that directly impact their lands and their people,” said Patsy Corbiere, UCCMM Tribal Chair. “As stewards of the largest freshwater island in the world we are ensuring that the courts take into account the Anishinabek perspective when determining if climate change is a matter of national concern. As the quality and quantity of our natural resources and medicines continue to diminish with the effects of climate change, it is vital that our voices be heard and our rights be respected.”

In the current appeal to SCC, the AN and UCCMM urged the court to “adopt an approach to the issues in this case which allows jurisdictional space for all levels of government: federal, provincial and Indigenous, in regulation of critical environmental matters.” Patricia Lawrence from Westaway Law Group, appearing on behalf of the AN and UCCMM, argued that “First Nations should not be left without effective redress as a result of federal-provincial jurisdictional disputes.

The Crown must be held accountable for the protection and preservation of the aboriginal and treaty rights recognized and affirmed by section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982. If the provinces are unable to effectively protect these rights, the federal government must be permitted to step in and enact legislation,” said Chief Corbiere.


March 6, 2020


Environmental Impacts

Lack of Inuit consultation on Muskrat Falls

Release of the report on the Muskrat Falls Inquiry from the Honourable Justice Richard D. LeBlanc, Commissioner: “Muskrat Falls, A Misguided Project”. The Muskrat Falls project has had a profound impact on ratepayers and the financial situation in Newfoundland and Labrador. The report makes findings and recommendations related to the inquiry’s terms of reference, as announced by government in November 2017.

The Executive Summary stated:Key Finding # 13 stated: GNL failed to ensure that it and Nalcor acted fairly in its consultations related to Indigenous Peoples and environmental matters. While not speaking to GNL’s legal obligation regarding consultation with the Indigenous groups in Labrador, GNL did not act appropriately from a fairness perspective with the Nunatsiavut Government, the NunatuKavut Community Council and the Innu of Ekuanitshit. GNL and Nalcor created an environment of mistrust and suspicion by not allowing all of the Indigenous Peoples and other concerned citizens to engage in a meaningful and transparent consultation process. This mistrust and suspicion led to protests that caused Project delays and significant cost overruns.
The report’s six volumes are available at http://www.gov.nl.ca/nr/muskrat-falls-a-misguided-project/.


August 12, 2019


Environmental Impacts

Lack of Inuit consultation on Muskrat Falls

The Nunatsiavut Government – The Nunatsiavut Government is extremely disappointed with the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador with the way it has handled the whole Muskrat Falls fiasco. The Premier has repeatedly betrayed our trust by neglecting to respond, in writing or publicly, to our concerns and/or questions. (i.e. Ignoring 5 of 7 recommendations from the Independent Expert Advisory Committee, comprised of representatives of the Nunatsiavut Government, Innu Nation, NunatuKavut Community Council, and federal, provincial and municipal governments, as well as an Independent Experts Committee that included ecosystem, health and Indigenous knowledge holders) See links below.

We have said all along that compensation is not a form of mitigation. We advised Mr. Marshall, as well as the Premier, that offering Labrador’s three Indigenous groups a share of this $30 million would be perceived as a form of compensation, or “hush money”. We remain adamant this money should have been used for what it was intended – to cap wetlands.

Established in August 2017, the IEAC’s mandate was to seek an independent, evidence-based approach to determine and recommend options for mitigating human-health concerns related to methylmercury throughout the reservoir as well as in the Lake Melville ecosystem. With reservoir impoundment under way, the time bomb is ticking on the future of those who depend on the Churchill River and Lake Melville for sustenance, and on the health, culture and way of life of many Labrador Inuit.

The Nunatsiavut Government will continue to advocate on behalf of Labrador Inuit affected by this terrible tragedy, while ensuring rigorous and appropriate independent monitoring continues in order to identify impacts of the Muskrat Falls project on the Lake Melville ecosystem.
https://www.nunatsiavut.com/blog/methylmercury-time-bomb-ticking/