REGINA – Earlier today the Supreme Court of Canada released its ruling concerning the Chippewas of the Thames First Nations, which found that the Crown had satisfied its duty to consult the Chippewas of the Thames in respect of flow-reversals and increased capacity of the Line 9 pipeline running through their community. The Supreme Court of Canada ruled that: “Even taking the strength of the Chippewas’ claim and the seriousness of the potential impact on the claimed rights at their highest, the consultation undertaken in this case was manifestly adequate.”
Regional Chief Isadore Day expressed disappointment with the ruling, but confirmed on-going support for the Chippewas of the Thames. “Wholesale legislative review is required to bring Canadian laws into accordance with the constitutional protection of Aboriginal and Treaty rights. The Nation-to-Nation relationship requires that the First Nation perspective, Indigenous legal traditions, and respect for inherent Aboriginal and Treaty rights be accounted for. We must protect the land from irreparable threats posed by pipelines.”
The Chiefs of Ontario intervened in this case, in support of the Chippewas of the Thames, arguing that the National Energy Board legislative framework pre-dates the affirmation and recognition of Aboriginal and Treaty rights. The legislation has not been properly updated to address S. 35 of the Constitution and the duty to consult. These outdated regulatory processes prevent meaningful First Nations participation and are not adequately designed to address Aboriginal and Treaty rights.
The Court confirmed that the Crown can delegate authority to the National Energy Board to decide questions of law, including whether Aboriginal and Treaty rights have been accounted for through a consultation and accommodation process. The Chiefs of Ontario will be analyzing this decision at further length.
“The Chiefs of Ontario will continue to support the Chippewas of the Thames, and all other communities who are facing unwanted potential development on their lands,” added Regional Chief Day. “The fossil fuel industry will disappear over the next several decades, to be replaced by green energy. The real issue here is that we must preserve our lands and waters for future generations. This is the way forward in order to reverse climate change and the continued contamination of our lands, air and water. Our Peoples will continue the fight to save our planet for all our children.”