June 30, 2016
Today the Federal Court of Appeal held that the federal government’s consultation with First Nations “fell well short of the mark” and overturned the Governor in Council’s order approving the certificates necessary for the Northern Gateway Project to proceed.
“It’s a great day for Haida Gwaii and the coast of BC. We’re all celebrating a victory for the oceans and our way of life,” said President of the Haida Nation, kil tlaats ‘gaa Peter Lantin.
The Court expressed a significant concern about the lack of meaningful dialogue that took place in Phase IV, the post-Joint Review Panel report phase when the Crown was required to engage in consultation.
The Court said that “it is no surprise that a number of concerns raised by Aboriginal groups – in our view, concerns very central to their legitimate interests – were left unconsidered and undiscussed. This fell well short of the conduct necessary to meet the duty to consult.”
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission has pointed a way forward for the government to approach its dealings with First Nations, not as litigation adversaries but as partners in confederation. The Court’s decision provides an excellent opportunity to the federal government to make good on their election promise to fully implement United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in relation to environmental assessments.
“This ruling opens the space again for the Liberal government to move forward on their promises to the Indigenous peoples in this country,” said Lantin. “It is an opportunity for all of Canada to embrace the change in the ways business must be done to protect our constitutionally protected rights and title.
The Supreme Court of Canada has repeatedly emphasized the importance of reconciliation. Haida Nation says this decision will have implications for Canada’s ability to achieve reconciliation of Aboriginal Title and Rights with the Crown’s assertion of sovereignty.
For the Haida Nation, the protection of the land, water ways and culture is critical to its identity as strong and self-determining peoples.
“The Haida Nation has implemented a series of innovative reconciliation agreements with the Crown that can serve as the foundation for long-lasting reconciliation between the Haida Nation and the Crown,” said Lantin.
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MEDIA: Haida Nation Communications
Simon Davies / 250 637 1130 / firstname.lastname@example.org