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Page 5 Chatter - June


Compiled by Debora Steel







Deputy Grand Chief Terry Waboose said the issue of the exclusion of First Nations from jury rolls has not been resolved, despite the recent public statements of Ontario Attorney General Chris Bentley. “Until the government of Ontario does the right thing and conducts an inquiry and reports on the truth of the systematic exclusion of First Nations from our justice system, this matter will not be resolved,” Waboose said. “We, along with First Nation coalition partners, have been seeking such a report since September 2008, but until the Court of Appeal issued its judgment in March 2011 we were largely ignored.” said Waboose. Julian Falconer, NAN’s legal counsel on the Bushie Inquest and the jury roll issues, said “The systematic exclusion of communities of people from the justice system, such as occurred here, is unprecedented and yet First Nations continue to be denied what would be an automatic for mainstream Canadians; a full accounting from the Province’s Attorney General. To use the words of the Court of Appeal in the recent Bushie case (par. 72), officials from the A.G. and the Coroner’s Office “have not been forthcoming” and have given First Nations the “run-around” in the face of reasonable requests for information. These issues are far from resolved.”

reports that the federal government is taking a hard line with a small First Nations community. Government lawyers say the Ojibway Mishkeegogamang First Nation should have gone to court long ago if they thought a 1905 treaty was invalid. “The plaintiffs are guilty of prolonged, inordinate and inexcusable delay in commencing their action and seeking the relief claimed,” court papers state. A lawsuit by the Mishkeegogamang First Nation is currently before the courts. The First Nation claims Ottawa has neglected its responsibilities for more than a century by not giving it the lands it had requested and then allowing hydro development to flood its lands. Mishkeegogamang First Nation was already compensated in 1998 by Ontario Hydro for damages from flooding to their traditional lands, the court papers read. “This defendant did not cause, directly or indirectly, any of the alleged losses sustained by the plaintiffs and therefore cannot be held liable for these,” the feds insist. The lawsuit could have wide-reaching effects. “It might have implications for many treaties signed in the late 19th and early 20th century,” Sébastien Grammond, a civil law professor at the University of Ottawa, is quoted.

the companies that you have invested in have the support of First Nations people, it could be detrimental to stock prices. The Vancouver Sun is reporting the units in TimberWest Forest took a nose dive on the Toronto stock exchange May 16 after six Vancouver Island First Nations applied for an injunction to prevent the sale of the forest company to two pension funds. The Hul’qumi’num Treaty Group filed the injunction application with the Inter-American Treaty Commission on Human Rights. TimberWest units fell as low as $5.37 from Friday’s close of $6.29 as a result of a financial analyst’s report saying that the injunction would probably kill the sale. Shares of TimberWest did recover, however, climbing to $6.08 by the time markets closed at the end of that same day. The Hul’qumi’num say the land involved in the sale lies within their traditional territory and was taken from them unilaterally. The treaty group’s main complaint, however, is over 830,000 hectares of land on the Island’s east coast that was handed over to the E&N Railway in 1884 as payment for constructing a line from Victoria to Comox.

First Nation, is jubilant that an interim injunction was issued by the Court of Queen’s Bench which orders the province to temporarily stop construction on a campground that the northern Alberta band says is on its traditional land. The order stops work on the English Bay Provincial Recreation Area. “It’s a victory for me, and it’s a victory for every Native nation who has been treated unfairly by Alberta and other provinces,” said Janvier in an Edmonton Journal report. The interim injunction also calls on the Cold Lake First Nation to remove all signs or blockades from the road into the campground. On May 6, members of the nation set up their own campsite to protest the development project. The government told the band they had to dismantle their camp by 5 p.m. that day. They refused. The campground was built in the 1950s, but in 2006 work was being done to expand and redevelop the area. The construction stopped soon after when historical artifacts were found. Some of the artifacts were more than 4,000 years old, and a broader archeological study was conducted on the campground.

an appeal by three First Nation people involved in a fishing dispute dating back to 1999. Members of the Cheam and Union Bar First Nations staged a fishery on the Fraser River during a DFO closure to conserve salmon. They were convicted of fishing without a licence, appealed those convictions to the B.C. Supreme Court, which they lost, and then took their case to the Court of Appeal. They argued commercial and recreational fishermen had more time on the river and the First Nations group wasn’t able to catch all the salmon they were entitled to under their aboriginal right to fish for food and ceremonial purposes. But the Appeal court rejected that argument, saying that conservation trumps all rights of other user groups.