Regina SK – Anishinaabe – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde responded today to the Supreme Court of Canada decisions today in the Chippewas of the Thames and Clyde River cases dealing with Indigenous peoples right to consultation and accommodation.
“It’s clear today that our right to consultation and accommodation must be respected and upheld. The AFN’s position is that the Crown’s consultation and accommodation obligations must be understood in the context of the standards set by the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, including the standard of free, prior and informed consent,” said National Chief Perry Bellegarde. “The federal government has endorsed the UN Declaration without qualification in Canada and internationally. Implementation of the Declaration will reduce conflict and court cases and ensure our rights are respected. We supported the Chippewas of the Thames in this action and commend them for taking a strong stand for our rights. We congratulate the Inuit of Clyde River for ensuring Indigenous rights are respected.”
AFN National Chief Bellegarde stood with the Chippewas of the Thames First Nation at the Supreme Court of Canada when their hearing began. The Chippewas of the Thames sought to have the court overturn a permit given to Enbridge Inc. to reverse and expand the flow of the Line 9 pipeline between Sarnia, ON and Montreal, QC. The First Nation insisted it was not meaningfully consulted at any time during the process, a requirement under Canadian law. National Chief Bellegarde was there to support First Nations and First Nations rights, including the right to self-determination.
In its decision today, the Supreme Court said that Enbridge had met its duty to consult the Chippewas of the Thames. However, they also underlined the importance of the right to a duty to consult. They warned the National Energy Board and the energy industry that “any decision affecting Aboriginal or treaty rights made on the basis of inadequate consultation will not be in compliance with the duty to consult.” The decision in Clyde River also dealt with the duty to consult, and the Supreme Court ruled Canada had not fulfilled this duty.
The AFN will be doing a close review and legal analysis of the decision, but it is clear from the Supreme Court’s comments that First Nations’ rights must be respected.