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First Nation sues paper company in B.C. after court opens door for litigation against private parties


— February 2, 2016

Last week the Halalt First Nation filed two civil suits totalling $2.1 billion in damages against Catalyst Paper, a pulp and paper company based in Richmond, British Columbia.

The community claims that the company’s mill in Crofton—which has been operating for more than 59 years—is interfering with the Halalt First Nation’s aboriginal rights. In addition to the financial compensation, the First Nation is seeking a “permanent order to prevent Catalyst from conducting operations at the Crofton Mill.” This is not the first time Halalt First Nation has used the courts to protect their aboriginal rights. In 2011, the B.C. Supreme Court ruled that the province failed to properly consult with the Halalt First Nation when developing a well project that would ultimately infringe on asserted fishing rights tied to the Chemainus River. However, the current civil cases are against a private party.

The two new civil suits brought forth by the Halalt First Nation should not come as a surprise given the current legal landscape of aboriginal title in B.C. As a 2015 Fraser Institute report points out, increased litigation against private parties is to be expected in light of the Saik’uz First Nation and Stellat’en First Nation v. Rio Tinto judgment. This 2015 landmark judgment opens up private parties, such as citizens and companies, to aboriginal rights and title litigation that was previously only brought forward against governments.

The judgment allows First Nations communities to claim damages against a private party on traditional territory before proving that aboriginal title exists on the traditional territory. This type of litigation against private parties also has the potential to add to the uncertainty of doing business in provinces such as B.C. For example, The Fraser Institute Annual Survey of Mining Companies has shown that the number one impediment for mining investment in B.C. is uncertainty over disputed land claims. These concerns result from the uncertain status of aboriginal land claims in the province. By exposing private parties to litigation that has traditionally been brought only against governments, the Rio Tinto judgment compounds the issue of land uncertainty in B.C. In addition to casting doubt on future resource projects, this judgment also jeopardizes projects like the Catalyst mill that has been operating for half a century.

It should be no surprise then that cases like Halalt First Nation’s $2 billion civil case are coming forward. With more than 100 per cent of the province claimed by First Nations in B.C. there is no doubt that more communities will follow Halalt First Nations’ lead. Whether First Nations are successful or not in these civil cases remains to be seen.

$1,200 grant now available at RBC

Parents, grandparents and guardians have one more place to kick start education savings and apply for a $1,200 B.C. Training and Education Savings for their child or grandchild’s future.

Who is eligible?

To be eligible for the $1,200 available via the B.C. Training and Education Savings Grant the following criteria must be met:

  • The child was born in 2007 or later
  • You and the child must be residents of British Columbia
  • The child is the beneficiary of a Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) with a participating financial institution
  • Budget 2016 provides an additional $39 million to extend the BCTESG program to children born on or after January 1, 2006, to help more parents and families save early for their child’s education.

We expect families with children born in 2006 will be able to apply in late 2016. 

For more information, click here:

Citxw Nlaka'pamux Assembly: Annual Community Presentation

Attention Nooaitch Band members! The Citxw Nlaka'pamux Assembly Annual Community Presentation is Thursday, June 9th 2016! See below for full details and a copy of their 2015 Annual Report.

Citxw Nlakapamux Assembly Annual Community Presentation 1Citxw Nlakapamux Assembly Annual Community Presentation 2

Download the Citxw Nlaka'pamux 2015 Annual Report by clicking here!

NEB report recommends conditional approval of the Trans Mountain Expansion Project

On May 19th, 2016, the National Energy Board released its recommendation for conditional approval of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Expansion Project.


Read the press release below, and and click HERE to read the NEB Report.


The National Energy Board (NEB or the Board) has issued a 533-page report recommending Governor in Council approve the Trans Mountain Expansion Project (Project), subject to 157 conditions.


The Board recommendation follows a public hearing process that included a thorough scientific and technical examination of all the evidence brought before the three-member NEB panel. The Board completed a comprehensive environmental assessment of the Project in accordance with its authority under the National Energy Board Act (NEB Act) and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act 2012 (CEAA 2012).

Through the public hearing process the Board considered all the evidence and arguments made for and against Trans Mountain’s application to construct and operate the Project, including information regarding the consultation undertaken with Indigenous groups, the potential impacts, and proposed mitigation measures. The Board then considered all of the benefits and burdens associated with the Project, balancing various interests and factors (such as the need for the Project), before determining whether, in its opinion, the Project is in the Canadian public interest.


Taking into account all the evidence, considering all relevant factors, and given that there are considerable benefits nationally, regionally and to some degree locally, the Board found that the benefits of the Project would outweigh the residual burdens.


The Board’s recommendation report is one of the factors that Governor in Council will consider when making the final decision on whether or not the Project should proceed. In the event Governor in Council directs the Board to issue a Certificate, Appendix 3 of the Report provides all the terms and conditions that the Board considers necessary for approval.


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