The battle is heating up with The Beaver Lake Cree Nation winning the right to take Canada and the Alberta government to court. The aim of the lawsuit is to force the two governments to honour treaty rights and push back against tar sands development on their territory.
According to Naomi Klein, of The Leap “This lawsuit is the first ever to challenge the cumulative impacts of industrial development. Not one project, not one mine, all of them all at once. If this strong and courageous Nation can show all the detrimental impacts of the tar sands extraction in court, and prove that this activity violates treaty law, it could change the rules of the game completely-for the climate, for indigenous rights, and for all of us”
The suit contends that over 90% of Beaver Lake Cree Nation has been affected by industrial development and resource extraction, by companies like Kinder Morgan, but that it is not too late to help protect their lands now.
Naomi Klein explains the importance of the precedent setting case, “If they win, it would force limits on an industry that has been allowed to violate the treaties at every turn, and wreak havoc on the health of ecosystems and local communities.” According to Jack Woodward, renowned Native Law expert and lawyer on the case “This would be the most powerful ecological precedent ever set in a Canadian court “because it protects the entire biological system with a view to preserving it’s sustainable productivity. A precedent setting ruling of that sort would have significance for any other First Nation making similar claims regarding the overall impacts of industrial development. This could have serious ramifications for other First Nations groups living near the tar sands or newly industrial zones like British Columbia’s Northeast.”
As Crystal Lameman,Treaty Co-ordinator and Communications Manager of The BLCN so ominously put it, “This is about the air that we breathe and the water that we drink. No matter your race, color or creed, this challenge is about you”.
The Beaver Lake Cree Nation is asking for help to keep this monumental legal battle going. Donations can be made through raventrust.com, a non profit group supporting the BLCN actions since 2009.