The Province and Blueberry River First Nation says they’re working on an interim plan for approved industrial development activities following the band’s cumulative impacts case victory in June.
“Our negotiation teams have already made progress together toward an interim approach for approved authorizations currently in the system, and our goal is to finalize it as soon as possible. This will promote stability for employers and workers in the territory and will allow us to begin the vital work of healing the land,” says the joint statement released on Friday by Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation Minister Murray Rankin and Blueberry River Chief Marvin Yahey.
On June 29th, a judge found the Province infringed on the band’s treaty rights by allowing industrial development in the traditional territory. The Province is no longer authorized to allow development activities that impact Treaty 8 rights of hunting, fishing and trapping.
“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.”
Following the court ruling, Justice Emily Burke gave the two parties six months to work together to improve land management and permitting processes to recognize and respect Blueberry River’s treaty rights.
“We want to emphasize that we are both committed to maintaining a healthy and sustainable economy in the region as we focus on environmental stewardship and healing the land. We will work as quickly as possible to achieve a path that establishes sustainability and certainty for the benefit of everyone who lives and works here.”
Both sides have appointed specialists to help them move forward with negotiations.
Lorne Brownsey is the Province’s lead negotiator, and Bob Chamberlin will serve as a special adviser to support the involvement of other Treaty 8 Nations, local governments and industry, according to the Province. Ratcliff LLP will serve as legal counsel for Blueberry River First Nations in the negotiations.
The Province chose not to appeal the court’s decision after the 160-day trial.
“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, many of whom have expressed support for the court’s decision, to ensure that they are part of the development of a new approach to authorizations in Treaty 8 territory and the important work of healing the land and restoring the health of wildlife.”