Leaders of Treaty 8 First Nations urge Trudeau to appeal Site C

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There’s still no clear indication on what stand the new federal government plans to take on the Site C dam, but Treaty 8 First Nations leaders have fired off a letter to Prime Minister Trudeau, suggesting “Under you present mandate, we would expect Canada’s position on this appeal to be reconsidered.”

The Globe and Mail reports the letter, from Chief Roland Willson of the West Moberly First Nation and Chief Lynette Tsakoza of the Prophet River First Nation, said if Mr. Trudeau is serious about rebuilding relationships with First Nations, he should start here in the Peace, where native people fear the Site-C project will destroy their way of life.

This is part of what Chief Willson told us last month:

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The local chiefs will be in Ottawa a week from today, for an Assembly of First Nations Conference, and it’s expected the appeals of two court rulings that went against them last summer will be up for some heavy discussion.

Even though the work started last summer at the dam site continues it could still come to an abrupt halt, if the First Nation’s score in either appeal case, which could happen with an assist from the new government.

In mandate letters to his ministers, the Prime Minister stressed there’s no relationship more important to him and the country, than the one with ‘Indigenous Peoples,’ and in the letter to his new Justice Minister, Jody Wilson-Raybould, he calls for a review of the federal government’s litigation strategy.

So the chiefs are in essence now saying ‘prove it,’ and calling for a review of the former federal government’s opposition to the First Nation’s contention, that Site C infringes on their treaty rights, and that consultation was inadequate.

That was the argument that was rejected in Federal Court and is now being appealed — along with a Provincial Supreme Court ruling — at as yet, unspecified dates.

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