Wabauskang First Nation set to appeal after Ontario Superior Court rules against band – by Alan S. Hale (Kenora Daily Miner and News – September 12, 2014)


Wabauskang First Nation says it will attempt to appeal a ruling by the Ontario Superior Court that the provincial government had not unlawfully delegated its constitutional responsibility to consult with the First Nation to Rubicon Minerals which wants to open a gold mine near Red Lake.

The local aboriginal community has applied to the Ontario Court of Appeal for permission to launch an appeal of the decision released by the superior court on Aug. 28 which ruled the province had fulfilled its obligation to consult Wabauskang and so its approval of the closure plan for Rubicon’s mine project was valid.

“I am persuaded that the institutional process established by Ontario by which it assessed the potential or actual impact of a claim was reasonable,” reads the judgement. “I am also satisfied that the assessment made by Ontario regarding the mine production stage in this case was reasonable: it recognized that (Wabauskang First Nation) had rights under Treaty 3 (and) it considered all potential effects deriving from (Wabauskang’s) Treaty 3 rights.”

Not surprisingly, the chief of Wabauskang, Martine Petiquan, does not agree with the court’s assessment, and so they intend to continue taking the issue to the next level.

“Our Treaty rights and our relationship and responsibilities with our lands and territory must be respected,” said Petiquan. “The lower court’s decision ignores fundamental aspects of our treaty relationship and Ontario’s constitutional obligations to our First Nation. We’re ready to take this fight to the Court of Appeal to make sure that Ontario honours our treaty the way it is supposed to.”

The First Nation originally launched its lawsuit in 2012 to attempt to stop the approval of the closure plan for the Pheonix Gold Mine project, an approval which will allow the mine to go into production.

The argument that the Ontario government is delegating too much of its responsibility to consult with First Nations to resource companies is not one that is only being made by Wabauskang, or even just by First Nations. A mining company, Canadian Star Minerals, launched its own lawsuit against the province in May for leaving them to consult — unsuccessfully — with Shoal Lake 39 on their own, leading to the scuttling of their plans to explore gold deposits in their territory in 2009.

Wabauskang’s lawyer, Bruce McIvor, is confident his client will get permission to take their appeal to the next level, and is ready to see it go to the Supreme Court of Canada if it proves necessary.

“We will argue the court was wrong in their conclusion that Ontario did not improperly delegate and that the court was wrong when it didn’t consider whether there had to be consultation about revenue-sharing and decision-making. Those are the three main points,” said McIvor.

For the original source of this article, click here: http://www.kenoradailyminerandnews.com/2014/09/11/wabauskang-first-nation-set-to-appeal-after-ontario-superior-court-rules-against-band