FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – The Province announced today that it and the Blueberry River First Nations have agreed to adjourn a pending treaty infringement trial until mid-October after a series of productive negotiations between the two parties recently.
Nearly three years ago, the Blueberry River First Nations sued the B.C. government, claiming that the cumulative impact of industrial development on its traditional territory has breached the government’s obligations under Treaty 8. The First Nation claims that its members are no longer able to exercise their treaty rights as originally intended.
Last December, arguments were heard after the government filed to get the First Nation to produce seven categories of documents from the First Nation. On January 25th, Madam Justice Emily Burke ruled that the Blueberry River First Nations produce five categories of documents as disclosure, though she ruled that documents containing the First Nations’ treaty claims, communication with other Treaty 8 members, documents of companies owned by First Nation members, and recordings of members not taking the witness stand would not have to be submitted.
The Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation said today that it and the Blueberry River have agreed to work together on several initiatives, including:
- Collaboration on land-use planning in the Fort St. John timber supply area, as part of a process that engages all Treaty 8 First Nations, stakeholders, and the public;
- Restoration initiatives, including work on restoring important wildlife habitat;
- Measures related to wildlife protection, including moose monitoring in critical areas; and
- A commitment to developing new First Nations consultation processes intended to create a more collaborative approach to resource development approvals.
The Province and Blueberry River say they are continuing discussions outside of court to collaboratively address Blueberry River’s concerns about the effects of resource development in their territory, and on their Treaty 8 rights.
Consultation and approval processes for forestry and oil and gas activities in areas of interest for the First Nation are said to be allowed to continue while discussions are ongoing.