Indigenous Success Stories: First Nations

April 25, 2022


Williams Lake First Nation reaches tentative $135M settlement, 160 years after being forced off its land

CBC: A First Nation in British Columbia has reached a proposed $135-million settlement with the federal government, 160 years after settlers began taking over its village lands.

Chief Willie Sellars of the Williams Lake First Nation said a legal battle that began nearly three decades ago ended up in the Supreme Court of Canada in 2018 before mediation began last year. “Words cannot really express the amount of joy and happiness that is beaming through our council and our community,” Sellars said Monday after announcing the agreement-in-principle, which still must be ratified.

Village lands within what is now the city of Williams Lake were occupied by settlers contrary to the colonial government’s commitment to create a reserve, so many of their ancestors were displaced, Sellars said.

Members aged 18 and over will have a chance to ratify the settlement in a referendum on June 29, and Sellars said three in-person and online information sessions will be held before that — on May 12, 26 and June 9. The First Nation said about 450 people will be eligible to vote, about half of its registered members, and ballots can be cast by mail or in person.

The $135-million deal is close to the maximum $150 million that could have been awarded, and Sellars urged all members of the First Nation to support it for the sake of future generations and the legacy of those who lost their lands.

“One of the discouraging things about how long this battle has lasted is that a lot of the elders that have testified throughout this whole process have passed on. They’re never going to see any benefit from this victory, and that was something that we kept in mind as we were negotiating,” Sellars said.

The First Nation’s pursuit of justice began in 1994 when it submitted a claim with Canada’s Specific Claims Policy, but the federal government refused to accept it. The First Nation then advanced the claim through a process called the Indian Claims Commission, and then the Specific Claims Tribunal. In 2014, the tribunal ruled Canada breached its obligations to the First Nation by allowing it to be unlawfully evicted from its traditional lands.

However, Canada appealed the decision as the legal dispute continued for another four years before the country’s highest court affirmed the tribunal’s ruling in 2018, sparking three years of negotiations toward a settlement for damages.

Wycotte said he never imagined when he read letters from Chief William about the plight of his people that he’d see the day the federal government would offer a $135-million settlement. “It’s been a hard journey,” he said. “When the Supreme Court of Canada made its decision, I knew it was a done deal. Canada can deny all it wants, but it has nowhere else to go.”


April 22, 2022


Cree, Inuit, and Naskapi sign MOU Establishing a Permanent Cree, Inuit and Naskapi Forum of Northern Québec

NationTalk: In an on-going effort to continue in the path of our past leaders in building and maintaining relationships with one another, the Crees of Eeyou Istchee, the Inuit of Nunavik, and the Naskapis of Nuchimiyuschiiy have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) Establishing a Cree, Inuit and Naskapi Forum of Northern Québec.

As parties to James Bay and Northern Québec Agreement (JBNQA) signed in 1975 and the Northeastern Québec Agreement (NEQA) of 1978, our collective challenges, although made distinct by our respective territories, politics, language, and customs, do hold similarities, especially when it comes to finding solutions in a reality that can only be truly understood by the inhabitants of Eeyou Istchee, Nunavik, and Nuchimiyuschiiy. It is by sharing our experiences and victories with one another that we can help one another succeed.

“Although we have always had connections with our neighbors to the north and to the east, having a permanent forum where common issues are exchanged on can only be positive for the well-being of our communities. Together, we can ensure the best tools are in place for the future and that representation of our nations in the region, province, and nationally is fair and inclusive.” – Grand Chief Mandy Gull-Masty, Cree Nation Government

This newly established permanent forum will promote cooperation and coordination on matters to advance Indigenous self-determination and aboriginal and treaty rights. It is important to understand that this forum will not substitute existing committees or forums provided for in the JBNQA, NEQA or established between other governing bodies.

“I am very proud of what Inuit have accomplished over the years on the Nunavik Territory. With our Indigenous Forum on Northern Quebec and our collective efforts with the Crees and the Naskapis our voice will even be louder and stronger.” – President Pita Aatami, Makivik Corporation

“Today marks an important milestone in our deep nation-to-nation collaboration, cooperation, and friendship. On our long journey towards self-determination, the Naskapis of Nuchimiyuschiiy are proud to count on our long-time neighbors, the Inuit of Nunavik and the Crees of Eeyou Istchee. It is only by working together that we will achieve our shared objective to exercise full autonomy on our traditional territories and improve the well-being of our communities.” – Chief Theresa Chemaganish, Naskapi Nation of Kawawachikamach

Discussions of the forum will be guided priorities that are deemed by each nation to be significant and relevant for the well-being of their communities and people and for the sustainability of their traditional territories. Our worlds are rapidly changing and challenging us to evolve quickly. We are resilient peoples who have adapted through generations of challenges and understand that it is when we are together that we can advance with high hopes and aspirations for our respective future generations.


January 27, 2022


BC First Nations Energy and Mining Council

FNEMC – “The Indigenous Sovereignty: Implementing Consent for Mining on Indigenous Lands” is a new report prepared by the BC First Nations Energy and Mining Council (FNEMC) setting out 25 recommendations which, if implemented, would compel mining companies and prospectors to secure the approval of First Nation governments in order to obtain consent-based access to First Nations’ lands. They would further be required to agree and abide by conditions set by those First Nations governments.

The report is, in part, a response to the Province’s lack of progress on implementing the Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act (the “Declaration Act”) since its enactment in 2019. The Declaration Act requires the Province, in consultation and collaboration with Indigenous peoples, to align all provincial laws with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (“UN Declaration”). Indigenous people’s rights of decision-making authorities about their lands, includes Free, Prior and Informed Consent for activity on their lands; these are key human rights standards in the UN Declaration, and the Declaration Act creates mechanisms for the Province (and Canada) to uphold.

However, to date, the Province has not reformed any of its mining laws to be consistent with the Declaration Act, and it continues “business as usual”. First Nations continue to rely on costly legal processes to protect their rights and address non-sanctioned mining operations in their territories, contrary to the Declaration Act and the Province’s commitments to First Nations. In the latest case filed in the BC Supreme Court in October 2021, the Gitxaala Nation, whose territory is in northern BC, challenges the Province’s “free entry” mineral claim staking regime. The Nation is challenging the registration and granting of multiple mineral claims by the Province between 2018 and 2020 on Banks Island in Gitxaala territory without the Nation’s consent, consultation, or even notification.

All 25 recommendations are consistent with the legal certainty that will exist once mining laws are aligned with the Declaration Act, offering near-term practical options for First Nations to exercise sovereignty and consent in relation to mining activities. In the absence of provincial government action, the Report recommends that First Nations move ahead with the development of their own mining regimes based on their Indigenous laws and legal orders and exercise of their right of consent for all existing and future mining operations.

 

http://fnemc.ca/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/FNEMC_mining_consent_FinalReport.pdf


December 20, 2021


Siksika Nation

Siksika Nation – Siksika Nation members vote in favour of the Siksika Nation Global Settlement Agreement that will include a one-time payment of 1.3 Billion dollars and will discontinue all filed court actions relating to the settlement. Approximatley 70% of eligible voters turned out to the polls on December 16th and 17th, 2021 in Siksika and Calgary as well as a number of mail-in ballots from Nation members who could not vote in-person. Of those who responded to the referendum question, approximately 77% voted yes.

The decision to accept the settlement will also include the option to apply for up 115,000 acres of land purchased by the Nation that can be added to the reserve anywhere in Alberta.

“This settlement is not reconciliation. We will never be restored to the same as before these breaches took place. We lost almost half of our landbase and access to ceremonial sites and our connection to the land. One thing the settlement can provide is opportunities. Financial opportunities that can open many doors for our people and be a move towards financial sovereignty. Opportunities that can help remove barriers, build capacity and provide services to help better the standard of life for all our People.” SUMMARY OF CLAIMS:

The Global Settlement Agreement includes the following claims;

  • 1910 Surrender and 1960 Petition of Right Claims: Unlawful surrender of 115,000 acres of reserve land and breach of Canada’s fiduciary duties related to the reserve lands.
  • CPR: Breaches of duty in taking reserve land for use by third parties in connection with the Canadian Pacific Railway.
  • CLUNY: Flooding of and release of sewage onto the reserve without Siksika’s permission.
  • BRID AND CREOSOTE: Unlawful taking of approximately 500 acres of the reserve for the Bow River Irrigation Project. Related creosote contamination claims.

SETTLEMENT OVERVIEW:

The proposed settlement is a global settlement that will cover all the claims identified above.

  • A one-time payment of 1,300, 000, 000 (one billion and three hundred million dollars) will be made to the Nation in 2022.
  • In exchange for the compensation, Siksika will discontinue all filed court actions related to the claims and release Canada from all liability related to the claims.
  • The settlement ratification will include a new surrender of the lands subject to the 1910 surrender to provide certainty.
  • Siksika is entitled to apply for up to 115,000 acres of land purchased by Siksika to be added to reserve.
  • The use of the settlement funds is not addressed in the proposed settlement agreement with Canada and will be determined solely by Siksika Nation.

December 17, 2021


Dehcho First Nations

CBC – Dehcho First Nations says it’s tired of waiting for the federal and territorial governments to recognize the Dehcho people’s authority over their land and resources — so it’s creating its own rules laying out how they can be used. Over the coming months, Dehcho First Nations (DFN) says it will draft a land code to govern all aspects of land and resource management in its territory.

DFN is a tribal council consisting of eight Dene First Nation communities and two Métis communities. Their territory covers approximately 250,000 square kilometres across the Northwest Territories and extends into Yukon and British Columbia.

Once the code is implemented, “DFN will request that Canada and the [government of the Northwest Territories] acknowledge their jurisdiction over the lands and resources of their Territory and acknowledge that the Dehcho Land Code is paramount over any federal or territorial legislation,” read a Dec. 6 news release from DFN.

Negotiating a land claim agreement with the federal and territorial governments began in 1999 and has stalled over the decades.

“In the absence of an agreement recognizing the authority of the Dehcho First Nations over their lands, the [government of the Northwest Territories] has claimed this authority and has acted as if it has jurisdiction to manage Dehcho lands and resources, against the strenuous objections of the DFN. This has led to further confusion and tension in the region,” read the release.


December 10, 2021


Eeyou Istchee Cree

Québec City – Tabled Bill 16. Among other things, it will afford the community of Oujé-Bougoumou the same official recognition in the corpus of legislation as the eight other Cree communities. The bill amends legislative provisions in order to implement supplementary conventions No. 22 and No. 27 to the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement.

To this end, the bill amends various statutes so that the Cree of Oujé-Bougoumou are expressly recognized therein as a Cree community benefiting from the same rights as the other Cree communities. Other amendments concern the Act respecting the Cree Hunters and Trappers Income Security Board and will reflect the changes made to the Income Security Program for Cree Hunters and Trappers stipulated in the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement, which is now the Cree Hunters Economic Security Program.


November 17, 2021


The Anishinabek Nation Chiefs

Anishinabek Nation – The Anishinabek Nation Chiefs proclaimed June 6 the Anishinabek Nation holiday, Anishinabek Giizhigad, in honour of the historic proclamation of the Anishinaabe Chi-Naaknigewin (constitution).

“On June 6, 2012, the Anishinaabe Chi-Naaknigewin was brought into ceremony by the Anishinabek Nation Elders. On that day, we asserted that we are sovereign with Inherent and Treaty Rights and responsibilities, and guided by the Seven Grandfather Teachings. Today, we recognize June 6 as a day of great importance for the Anishinabek Nation communities to celebrate,” states Anishinabek Nation Grand Council Chief Reg Niganobe.
The Anishinaabe Chi-Naaknigewin was ratified by the Anishinabek Nation Grand Council by Grand Council Resolution and confirmed by a Pipe Ceremony in Sheguiandah First Nation on June 6, 2012. The Anishinaabe Chi-Naaknigewin is a commitment to establish a traditional government that will develop laws and policies for the protection and betterment of Anishinabek.

The Anishinaabe Chi-Naaknigewin was developed in consultation with Anishinabek First Nations leaders and citizens over the course of 13 years. Throughout this period, the consultations process was done according to proper protocols, rules, order, and ceremonies, including Dodemaag (Clan) teachings by former Anishinabek Nation Head Getzit Nmishomis Gordon Waindubence (Shiikenh).

In 2011, the Anishinaabe Chi-Naaknigewin Preamble, Ngo Dwe Waangizid Anishinaabe (One Anishinaabe Family), was approved by Chiefs-in-Assembly. The Preamble contains instructions on how to live according to the Laws the Creator has given to the Anishinaabe. Nmishomis Gordon Waindubence sat with an Elders Council to create the Ngo Dwe Waangizid Anishinaabe, which provides the context and the spirit and intent in which the Anishinaabe Chi-Naaknigewin is understood.

“We encourage all Anishinabek Nation citizens in our 39 First Nations to embrace and honour this day and celebrate it in their own way,” states Grand Council Chief Niganobe. “We are a strong, beautiful, diverse people. We encourage our non-Indigenous counterparts to take the time to learn about our new holiday, culture, traditions and history, and join in celebrating with us.”


October 8, 2021


Blueberry First Nation

Toronto Star – The BC Government has signed an agreement with Blueberry First Nation to provide $65 million in funding to support land restoration and cultural programs, four months after a court ruled the province beached the nation’s rights. The initial agreements will provide $35M to undertake land restoration activities and create jobs for band members and business opportunities for companies in the region. The other $30 million will go toward helping the First Nation protect its cultural way of life and expanding its land management resources as well as restoring the health of wildlife through management programs.


October 1, 2021


Blueberry First Nation

The ruling requires a rebalancing of Treaty 8 rights, the economy and the environment. We recognize that this court decision has significant social and economic implications in the region, and that it has caused uncertainty for communities and industry.

“Our future focus is on creating long-term solutions for collaborative decision-making that protect treaty rights and manage the cumulative impacts of industrial development. We are committed to creating a balanced path in the territory, one that provides environmental sustainability that respects and protects Treaty 8 rights and Indigenous culture along with stable economic activity and employment.

“We are committed to providing regular updates to and seeking input from Blueberry River First Nations members, industry, local governments and residents of the northeast as our discussions proceed. We are also reaching out to other Treaty 8 First Nations,


August 12, 2021


Gitanyow Hereditary Chiefs

The Gitanyow Hereditary Chiefs (Nation/Huwilp) and the governments of British Columbia and Canada have signed the Gitanyow Governance Accord.

The accord provides a path forward in the B.C. Treaty process toward full self-government, led by a restored Gitanyow hereditary governance system.

The tripartite accord commits Gitanyow, the Province and Canada to a series of steps needed to transition away from the federal Indian Act by revitalizing and achieving legal recognition of Gitanyow hereditary governance system of the Huwilp/Houses within five years. It is a process of rebuilding Gitanyow hereditary governance with modern-day governance tools and provides an important example of the benefits of implementing rights and title through negotiation, rather than relying on the courts.

By signing the accord, Gitanyow, the Province and Canada have agreed on key milestones to be reached within five years, including:

  • revitalizing the Gitanyow Constitution, governance structures and developing a citizenship code;
  • negotiating an inherent governance agreement that sets out steps to Gitanyow self-government; and
  • ratifying and implementing the Gitanyow Inherent Governance Agreement.

Quick Facts:

  • Gitanyow is represented by eight hereditary chiefs that each lead a Wilp (house group) and come together as the Huwilp on matters of common interest.
  • The Gitanyow Nation’s territory covers approximately 1.7 million hectares of northwestern British Columbia.
  • Gitanyow is in stage 4 of the B.C. Treaty process.
  • Canada and the Province endorsed and committed to fully implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) in 2019.
  • A tripartite governance working group will be established within 45 days of the signing of the accord, with Gitanyow, the Province and Canada appointing at least one representative.

https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/environment/natural-resource-stewardship/consulting-with-first-nations/first-nations-negotiations/first-nations-a-z-listing/gitanyow-hereditary-chiefs1


August 11, 2021


Peepeekisis Cree Nation

CTV News – After more than 30 years in federal courts, the Government of Canada and the Peepeekisis Cree Nation gathered together in virtual ceremony to celebrate the signing of an historic land claim settlement. The settlement agreement includes $150 million, offers the ability for Peepeekisis to acquire additional land and manage settlement funds, which will be put in a community trust.

Chief Francis Dieter of Peepeekisis Cree Nation said the settlement funds will go toward programs that will help elders and youth in the community, and will help tackle social issues that exist on reserve.


August 11, 2021


Waywayseecappo First Nation

Crown Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada – announced that the First Nation and Canada have concluded a negotiated settlement to resolve a longstanding dispute and move forward together on the path of reconciliation.

The negotiated agreement settles Waywayseecappo First Nation’s 1881 Surrender Specific Claim. The claim relates to the taking and subsequent sale of 21,013 acres of the First Nation’s reserve land in 1881. The basis of the claim was that Canada wrongfully took these lands from the First Nation without their consent and without proper compensation.

The settlement provided approximately $287.5 million in financial compensation to the First Nation. The settlement honours an outstanding obligation, but also provides the First Nation with capital to invest in new opportunities for community and economic development that can benefit its members and the local economy.
In marking this joint achievement today, Waywayseecappo and Canada want to acknowledge former Supreme Court Justice Frank Iacobucci who mediated the negotiations and played an instrumental role in assisting the parties in reaching this negotiated settlement.

Chief Murray Clearsky and Minister Bennett also announced today that Canada and Waywayseecappo have successfully completed the addition to reserve process adding 2.250 hectares (5.56 acres) of surface land to the Waywayseecappo Highway 10 Indian Reserve.

The lands, located approximately one kilometre north of the City of Brandon, have successfully been developed into a gas bar, a convenience store and an office building for the West Region Child and Family Services Centre.
By adding lands to reserve, the Government of Canada helps advance reconciliation, fulfill legal obligations, improve treaty relationships, and foster economic opportunities.

First Nation members approved the settlement in a community vote, with 92 percent of those who voted voting in favour. The settlement was signed by the First Nation on July 19, 2019 and by Canada on June 30, 2020. Under the settlement, the First Nation can buy up to 21,013 acres of land on the open market and apply to have it added to their reserve


August 10, 2021


Peepeekisis Cree Nation

Government of Canada – The Peepeekisis Cree Nation and the Government of Canada have concluded their negotiated settlement to resolve the File Hills Colony Specific Claim.

The century-old claim concerned Canada’s breach of fiduciary obligations when it implemented the File Hills Farm Colony Scheme with its first transfer and settlement of industrial school graduates onto the Peepeekisis Cree Nation’s reserve without the informed and willing consent of Peepeekisis Cree Nation in 1898. The Colony Scheme included providing parcels of prime agricultural Peepeekisis reserve lands without the Nation’s consent. In creating and implementing the Colony Scheme, Canada breached its fiduciary duty to the Nation by failing to protect the Nation’s interest in the land and not providing any compensation to the Nation. The historic and ongoing harm that the Colony Scheme caused to the Peepeekisis Nation created community divisions and animosity between families and members. The legacy of the Colony Scheme continues to impact the Nation to this day.

Under the settlement, Canada will provide Peepeekisis Cree Nation with $150 million in total compensation, with the option to acquire up to 18,720 acres of land and for said land to be added to reserve in accordance with all applicable laws and Canada’s policies and procedures respecting reserve creation.


August 5, 2021


Peepeekisis Cree Nation

CTV News – The Peepeekisis Cree Nation is home to a unique and rarely acknowledged part of Canada’s residential school history: File Hills Colony. Nearly 80 years later, community members are still feeling the effects of the so-called social experiment. The colony was located on Peepeekisis, located about 100 kilometres east of Regina, from its inception in 1898 until it concluded in the 1940s.
“Participants in the File Hills Colony were graduates of Indian residential schools and industrial schools,”

Cheyanne Desnomie an Indigenous research specialist who is from Peepeekisis Cree Nation,
said. “They were handpicked by [William Morris Graham the local Indian Agent], along with local clergymen and principals of residential schools. Once chosen, the colony members were forced to work on a community farm which was located on what is now called Peepeekisis Cree Nation. They were not permitted to return to their home communities where they had originally lived before attending residential school, where most of their families were still living…. At the time the colony started in 1898, there were already families living on the land. They were pushed to the side to make room for the colony placements.

That caused a divide between members in the community and it continued for decades. Desnomie said it’s sometimes still there today.


July 29, 2021


Blueberry First Nation

CTV News – British Columbia has decided not to appeal a provincial Supreme Court ruling that found the government breached the Treaty 8 agreement signed with the Blueberry River First Nations more than 120 years ago by allowing development without the community’s approval. Attorney General David Eby says the court was clear the province must improve its management of the cumulative impacts of industrial development in the territory in B.C.’s northeast.


July 28, 2021


Blueberry First Nation

Financial Post – A British Columbia Supreme Court decision requiring the provincial government to consider the “cumulative effects” of development could mandate First Nations’ consent for any new project on historic treaty lands in Canada. Justice Emily Burke’s 511-page decision in Yahey v. B.C., released on June 29, forbids B.C. from authorizing further development in Blueberry First Nation territory unless an agreement for a satisfactory regulatory approval regime can be reached within six months.

“The upshot is that B.C.’s legal authority to authorize new developments, like roads and wind farms, must take into account cumulative effects management that ensure that the combined impact of new developments don’t produce an infringement on treaty rights,” Duncanson said. “It’s hard to imagine, however, what that would look like without full consent from Blueberry and all the other First Nations whose treaty rights overlap.”
Its traditional territory comprises an expanse of 38,000 square kilometres including most of the Montney Formation, one of the country’s most active natural gas development targets, municipalities such as Fort St. John and Dawson Creek, forestry operations, two hydroelectric dams, and the controversial under-construction Site C dam on the Peace River…84 per cent of Blueberry territory is within 500 metres, and 73 per cent within 250 metres, of an industrial disturbance. In 2016, the David Suzuki Foundation and Ecotrust Canada concluded that more than 110,000 kilometres of pipelines, roads, transmission lines and seismic lines populated Blueberry territory.

The issue facing the court was whether BRFN’s rights under Treaty 8, signed in 1900, had been infringed by the cumulative impacts of industrial development, including forestry, oil and gas, renewable energy and agriculture, during the past 120 years. Justice Burke concluded that the province had breached the agreement because it allowed development without the community’s approval, thereby violating its promise to maintain BRFN’s treaty rights to hunt, fish and trap within its traditional territory.

The circumstances of the BRFN decision, however, differ from earlier treaty rights jurisprudence, where allegations of infringement focused on a single piece of legislation, regulatory regime or project. Burke’s judgment noted that while no individual project had a devastating effect on the community, the cumulative effect produced a limitation of treaty rights. For this reason, among others, appeal courts that deal with the issue may find that her decision did not intrude on SCC pronouncements.


April 19, 2021


Listuguj Mi’gmaq First Nation

The five-year Rights and Reconciliation Agreement on Fisheries was agreed to by LMG on March 24, 2021 and will be approved and signed by Canada in the coming weeks. In the Agreement, Canada recognizes the Listuguj Mi’gmaq First Nation’s fisheries governance and fishing rights. The Agreement also recognizes the mechanisms, including our Mi’gmaq Laws, by which the LMG governs and manages its fisheries.
For the first time, Canada has formally recognized our sacred, inherent responsibility for the stewardship of the land, waters, and living things of Gespe’gewa’gi. As the basis for this Agreement, Canada has also accepted that the recognition of our inherent jurisdiction, legal orders, and laws is the starting point for discussions between the federal government and the LMG.

“This Agreement will allow us to plan and implement our seasons with some certainty that DFO will not unjustifiably infringe on Mi’gmaq fisheries governance and our fishing rights. We will also gain increased access to fisheries resources whether for food, social, ceremonial, or commercial purposes, funds for capacity building on fisheries governance, obtain fisheries access, which could include licenses and/or quota as well as vessels and gear,” said Dr. Fred Metallic, Natural Resources Director, member of fisheries negotiation team on behalf of LMG.

LMG remains committed to making certain that our rights, responsibilities, and full authority over our fisheries are upheld. If required, there is nothing in this Agreement that prohibits the LMG from initiating or supporting legal proceedings against Canada concerning any alleged breach of this Agreement by Canada, including action by Canada that fails to fulfill the duty to consult and accommodate or unjustifiably infringes our Aboriginal or Treaty Rights.


December 17, 2020


Homalco First Nation, Klahoose, Komoks, Kwiakah, Tla’amin, We Wai Kai (Cape Mudge) and Wei Wai Kum (Campbell River) First Nation

The Tyee – Acting on the wishes of seven First Nations in the Discovery Islands DFO Minister Bernadette Jordan has not renewed fish farm licenses in the Discovery Islands but ordered the phase out of all 19 Atlantic salmon feedlots owned by Norwegian-based companies. That means juvenile salmon will not have run through a gauntlet of fish farms and their parasites along one of the province’s largest wild salmon migration routes.
All the farms are to be emptied of Atlantic salmon by June 30, 2021.

“This is the culmination of a long fight,” said Alex Morton, an independent biologist and researcher who first identified the threat posed by sea lice infestations on farms to wild fish 20 years ago. “For the first time since 1991, when sockeye runs started to decline, Okisollo Channel will be free of fish farms. They have blocked a critical artery for the movement of wild fish for far too long.”

Bob Chamberlain, the chief of the First Nations Wild Salmon Alliance who negotiated on behalf of three of the seven First Nations with DFO, called the minister’s decision to close the farms a welcome one. “It is a step in the right direction toward protecting wild salmon but there are many more steps to be taken.” Those steps include habitat restoration and the return of salmon governance to First Nations.

Chamberlain says 102 First Nations up and down B.C.’s coast want to see fish farms out of the ocean to help stop the downward spiral of extinction of wild Pacific salmon.


December 17, 2020


Peepeekisis Cree Nation

Yorkton This Week – Members of the Peepeekisis Cree Nation – in Treaty 4 territory – have voted 97 per cent to approve and receive a $150-million land settlement from the federal government, the roots of which date back to the late 1800s. Former Peepeekisis Chief Enock Poitras first filed legal papers for the land claim in 1986; federal courts twice denied it, saying the band’s first two attempts were outside the statute of limitations.
The community’s leaders re-submitted the case a third time, the current successful one, in June 2017. Six months later they were negotiating with the feds.

The claim stems from the work of Indian agent William Graham in 1898. He led a federally-imposed farm colony program in the area, forcing non-Peepeekisis members to marry and then settle on the community’s reserve land east of Balcarres in Saskatchewan.

After paying legal fees, the band will put the remaining $70 million in a trust fund, created with help from consulting firm Deloitte.

There’s also now a sub-committee of five Peepeekisis members tasked with deciding “how to spend interest off the trust,” Dieter said; none of them are in governance positions.
Dieter said the first task on tap is building a new community hub, which is to house the band office, a daycare, a kitchen and a gas station. Construction is to start at the end of January.


November 30, 2020


The Anishinabek Grand Council

Anishinabek News – The Anishinabek Grand Council adopted the Anishinabek Nation Long – Term Strategic Plan, Geyaabi Waa Ni Zhiwebag, at its recent Grand Council Assembly held November 3 and 4, via Zoom. Central to the implementation of the LTSP is the coordination of negotiations and self-government initiatives to move Anishinabek First Nations forward toward enhanced well-being and self-sufficiency through the revitalization of language and Anishinaabe culture and comprehensive self-government, according to First Nations’ jurisdictional priorities.

The Chiefs Committee on Governance is mandated to develop a new framework for comprehensive self-government negotiations, communications, and consultations that support the Anishinabek First Nations’ jurisdictional priorities.

In a survey, participants were asked, “What priority areas should the Anishinabek Nation focus on in the short (1-5 years), medium (5-10 years), and long term (10-25 years), including Culture, Language, Education, Employment, Economy, Health, Housing, Infrastructure, and Justice?”

  • The two top-ranked short-term priorities are language and culture.
  • The two top medium-term priorities are employment and economy, and
  • The two top long-term priorities are language and culture.

November 24, 2020


Caldwell First Nation

Windsor Star – After 230 years of fighting, Caldwell First Nation has finally secured the land for a new reserve following the $105-million land claim settlement approved in 2010. The Caldwells, also known at the Chippewas of Point Pelee, lived in the Point Pelee area before 1763 and never signed the McKee Treaty in 1790. The band, which had registered complaints since at least 1939, submitted a formal claim to Point Pelee and Pelee Island in 1973. The federal government rejected the claim in 1974. The government finally undertook a historical review of the claim in 1993, and two years later recognized “an outstanding lawful obligation (to Caldwells) from the non-fulfillment of the 1790 treaty.”

The band’s claim was accepted for negotiation in 1996.

The band has set aside land for housing, economic development, educational and cultural use and green space. A new restaurant called Three Fires is to open in the spring. The band is also working on a medicinal cannabis operation and a winery. An education and culture department will teach band members their language and culture.


November 22, 2020


Enoch Cree Nation

Nearly 80 years after lands belonging to the Enoch Cree Nation in Alberta were “illegally” leased by the Canadian military, a settlement has been reached. During the Second World War, the federal government took two sections making up 485 hectares and turned them into a practice bombing range. That includes Yekau Lake which was the community’s source of water.

The lake has never recovered and to this day unexploded bombs still exist, according to Chief Billy Morin. Morin said the bombs destroyed the lake and that today, there are no fish and the water is unsafe to drink. The land is largely abandoned.

In early November, the federal government and the Enoch Cree Nation announced a $91 million settlement.

“Loss of use for our economic development purposes, notable the golf course on those 2 sections of land. Some of it will go into a per capita distribution to the Nation members themselves. Some of it will go into band program funding to upkeep some of our services when those 2 areas of land,” said Morin. “But the primary thing the 91 million dollars was made up for is land reclamation.”
Morin said removing the bombs and cleaning the lake will take years


October 22, 2020


Supreme Court

Eeyou Istchee – The Supreme Court of Canada has refused to consider Strateco Resources’ request to appeal from the Quebec Court of Appeal’s dismissal of the company’s claim against Quebec. Strateco claimed $200M in damages for Quebec’s refusal to authorize its Matoush Project, an advanced uranium exploration project on Cree territory. In August 2012, the Cree Nation declared a permanent moratorium on all uranium activities in its traditional territory of Eeyou Istchee. In November 2013, the Quebec Minister of the Environment refused to grant a certificate of authorization for the Matoush Project, citing a lack of social acceptability amongst the Cree Nation of Mistissini, the population most directly impacted by the project.

“We are pleased that the Supreme Court has decided not to hear Strateco’s proposed appeal,” said Grand Chief Dr. Abel Bosum. “For the Cree Nation, this case has always been about more than just the Matoush Project. It is a significant affirmation of our treaty rights. It upholds the integrity of the unique environmental and social impact review process established by the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement.”

“We are committed to protecting our environment and our way of life from the unacceptable risks that uranium mining presents, now and for future generations,” said former Grand Chief Dr. Matthew Coon Come, who was also a witness in the 2017 trial. “The Cree Nation supports development in Eeyou Istchee that is consistent with our values, our way of life and our rights under the JBNQA.”


August 5, 2020


Indigenous Advisory Committee

NationTalk – For the first time ever, Canada’s federal energy regulator has an Indigenous Advisory Committee (IAC) who will advise the Board of Directors on how the Canada Energy Regulatort (CER) can build a new relationship with Indigenous peoples. Members of the IAC are leaders at the local, regional and national level, are respected voices of their communities, and bring deep experience in the energy and natural resources sector.

The committee is made up of nine members, three of whom are appointed directly by national Indigenous organizations: the Assembly of First Nations, the Métis National Council and Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami. The IAC provides advice from the diversity of its members’ Indigenous perspectives and is an integral part of the CER’s formal governance structure. IAC Members:

  • Contribute strategic advice and perspective on how the CER can make meaningful progress towards reconciliation in Canada;
  • Promote opportunities for positive systemic change through building and strengthening new relationships with the Board and CER staff;
  • Leverage their experience with the energy and/or natural resource sector in providing advice;
  • Share Indigenous values and teachings as a respected voice of their communities, so the IAC and CER can learn from each other and integrate Indigenous perspectives in the CER’s strategies, plans and actions.

https://nationtalk.ca/story/cer-announces-the-establishment-of-first-indigenous-advisory-committee


July 8, 2020


Anishinabek Nation

Manitoulin Expositor – Since the Ontario Government launched their appeal of the Dec. 24, 2018 decision, the Superior Court has sided with the Anishinabek Nation in two of three challenges:

  • Phase 1: Established that the original treaty created a ‘sui generis fiduciary relationship’ (meaning the colonial government was required to manage the lands and act in the best interests of the First Nations, a relationship that was specifically applicable to this case
  • Phase 2: Justice Hennessey rejected the crown’s various arguments that it should not have to increase annuities or make up for lost payments in past. These arguments included a statute of limitations—that too much time has passed between the last annuity increase and it should not be responsible for annuities before 1963, and that the Crown may be ‘immune’ from being sued.
  • Phase 3 – Final phase addresses the compensation issue (TBD)

https://www.manitoulin.ca/robinson-huron-treaty-money-lawsuit-gets-nod-from-superior-court-judge-crowns-defence-pleas-come-up-short/


May 28, 2020


Tŝilhqot’in Nation

Tŝilhqot’in Nation – The ʔEsdilagh First Nation (Alexandria First Nation) enacts the historic ʔElhdaqox Dechen Ts’edilhtan (“Sturgeon River Law”) exercising their governance over stewardship and management over the waters that flow throughout the whole of its caretaker area. The law, originating from Tŝilhqot’in inherent teachings, is unveiled in its written form.

The ʔElhdaqox Dechen Ts’edilhtan is a component of the broader Tŝilhqot’in laws governing lands and water. The waters are vital to the Nation and the law articulates the time honoured customs to ensure water will remain safe and clean for current and future generations.

On June 26, 2014, the Supreme Court of Canada declared Aboriginal title for the first time in Canadian history, in the homeland of the Tŝilhqot’in people. The community of ʔEsdilagh is one of six communities that comprise the Tŝilhqot’in Nation, and as such have rights and title over their territory including the waters in their territory which connect the entire Nation and sustain the culture, wildlife, fisheries and livelihoods that exist there.

The ʔElhdaqox Dechen Ts’edilhtan was enacted by the ʔEsdilagh First Nation on May 27, 2020 and was endorsed by all six Tŝilhoqt’in Chiefs today, May 28, 2020. The law applies to all waters in ʔEsdilagh territory. Awareness and compliance of the law is sought from both existing and proposed projects, and all other users who may impact the waters throughout the territory.

“The Nation is currently appealing a BC Ministry of Environment permit amendment which allows the Gibraltar Mine to increase the rate of its effluent discharge by 50%, sending tailings effluent straight from its tailings pond to the Fraser River. Despite years of requests to seek alternate water management treatment solutions this permit was approved. By obligation of our Elders and historical teachings the Nation is united to uphold this law – water is essential to our existence. Documenting our traditional laws and having them recognized is a vital component of implementing our rights and title.
Nits’ilʔin (Chief) Joe Alphonse, Tribal Chair, Tŝilhqot’in National Government:

https://www.tsilhqotin.ca/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/2020_05_28_PR_ʔEsdilagh-First-Nation-Enacts-Historic-ʔElhdaqox-Dechen-Tsedilhtan.pdf


May 21, 2020


Fort McKay First Nation

First Peoples Law – “Treaties at Risk: Case Comment on Fort McKay First Nation” In Fort McKay First Nation v Prosper Petroleum Ltd., the Alberta Court of Appeal has become the most recent Canadian court to highlight the disconnect between governments’ legal obligations to Treaty people and their shameful and continuing disregard for the Treaty relationship.

The Court held that the honour of the Crown requires governments act in a way that accomplishes the intended purposes of the Treaty, and that this overarching obligation may give rise to duties beyond consultation, including the requirement to keep promises made in negotiations to protect Treaty rights.
The Court acknowledged that the reality of extensive industrial development may make it increasingly difficult for the Province to keep certain Treaty promises, including the right to hunt. However, the Court emphasized that the Province remains under an ongoing obligation to honourably implement the Treaty, including by taking into account the cumulative effects of development on Treaty rights.
https://www.firstpeopleslaw.com/index/articles/463.php

The Court further held that where a regulatory agency such as the AER is required to consider whether a project is in the “public interest,” it must ensure that its decision is consistent with section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982. In this case, the AER failed to fulfil its responsibility to consider the honour of the Crown and potential impacts of a project on Aboriginal and Treaty rights as part of fulfilling its public interest mandate.
As the Court held in Mikisew (2005), the honour of the Crown is at stake in the performance of every Treaty obligation. The Treaty relationship mandates an ongoing process whereby the Crown, acting honourably, must ensure that Treaty rights remain protected in the face of industrial development. Too often, however, Indigenous Peoples’ Treaty rights have been sidelined where large-scale resource projects are at stake. This is particularly true in Alberta, where oil sands development has left Fort McKay and other First Nations unable to use large portions of their lands.

The Alberta Court of Appeal’s decision is an important reminder to Alberta, and other provinces, that the Crown’s Treaty promises are to be taken seriously.


February 28, 2020


First Nations Climate Initiative

LNG Industry – Our objective in forming FNCI is to work with Indigenous nations, governments, industry and environmental organizations to create a regulatory and policy platform that will enable us to achieve the goal of economic self-sufficiency through the responsible development of LNG projects in a manner that is consistent with our rights, principles and values, while meaningfully addressing climate change through the reduction of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Our decision to support LNG development was made only after a rigorous environmental assessment process and a thorough process of consultation. We continue to believe that such processes can result in an LNG project that strikes the right balance by bringing significant economic opportunities to our Nation and our people while minimizing impacts to our lands and resources. We are very concerned that our aspirations and tireless efforts to bring environmentally responsible economic development to our lands and economic prosperity to our people may be frustrated by a small and disruptive minority who oppose LNG development, many of whom have agendas other than advancing the interests of Indigenous people in British Columbia.

As the first Indigenous nation in British Columbia to enter into a modern treaty, the Nisg̱a’a Nation has constitutionally protected rights of self-government, clear legal ownership of our Nisg̱a’a Lands, and significant rights and co-management responsibilities over the much larger areas covered by our treaty. These rights reflect the long-held principles and values of the Nisg̱a’a Nation and are the product of decades of negotiation. We use these rights, principles and values to thoroughly review each project that is proposed in our lands, inform ourselves about the potential impacts of the project, and determine whether it is right for our Nation.


February 17, 2020


Eeyou Istchee Cree

Eeyou Istchee and the Government of Québéc – officially signed a Memorandum of Understanding on collaborative, long-term, balanced economic development in a spirit of respect for Cree values in the Eeyou Istchee James Bay Territory. The project stems from a patient consultative process with the Cree communities and calls for:

  • the extension of the rail network to promote economic development and reduce the impacts of trucking;
  • the electrification of certain industrial projects;
  • the sharing of infrastructure in the territory;
  • local labour force training;
  • the identification of new protected areas conducive to the connectivity of the territory’s wildlife habitats.

It is anticipated that the plan will extend over a period of 30 years to ensure the predictability and stability of the economic and social development of the Eeyou Istchee James Bay Territory and Québec overall.

“This Memorandum of Understanding proves that it is possible to work together on ambitious socioeconomic development projects and take advantage of Northern Québec’s vast mining potential for the benefit of both our nations, in a spirit of respect for the environment, the territory and Indigenous values.”
François Legault, Premier of Québec

“The project will help to unlock the wealth of the region’s varied natural resources and create jobs and business opportunities for the Cree and James Bay residents, while protecting the environment and wildlife.”
Abel Bosum, Grand Chief of the Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee) and President of the Cree Nation Government


January 21, 2019


Teslin Tlingit Council

Assembly of First Nations – Yukon Supreme Court decision that affirms Canada’s constitutional obligation to meaningfully and appropriately implement the terms of Modern Treaties, particularly the TTC Final and Self-Government Agreement. The court found that Canada has only been funding TTC and other Yukon First Nations on the number of “status” citizens. However, TTC’s self-government agreement does distinguish between citizens that hold Indian status and those that don’t.

“Yukon First Nation children and families deserve proper programs and services supported by adequate funding based on the total population of citizens as determined by each respective First Nation. TTC, and other Yukon First Nations, entered into modern treaties, after decades of negotiation, to reach an agreement that would enable Canada and TTC to further their common priorities. At its core, the agreement is about ensuring Teslin Tlingit citizens, regardless of federally-imposed categories of status or non-status, can realize self-determinations in accordance with their principles and values.” Yukon Regional Chief Kluane Adamek.


December 24, 2018


Anishinabek Nation

Historic Victory for First Nations – Ontario Superior Court of Justice finds Constitutionally Protected Treaty Right to Resource Revenue Sharing – 168 years after signing of the Robinson-Huron Treaty. The action was brought against the federal and provincial governments for their failure to honour promises made in their longstanding Treaty relationship with the Anishinabek Nation that dates back to the Royal Proclamation of 1763.

Under the Treaty, entered into on September 9th, 1850 the Lake Huron Anishinabe agreed to share their lands and resources with the settlers ‐‐ approximately 35,700 square miles of territory. In return, the Crown promised, among other things, to share the net resource revenues generated from the use of the land by paying annuities that would be augmented based on the productivity of the Treaty territory. Although great wealth has since been generated from the territory, Anishinabek Treaty beneficiaries received only $4.00 per year since 1874.