As protesters in British Columbia’s Lower Mainland go berserk over tankers from the federally approved Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain expansion, First Nations in the Northern Coast are suing governments for banning them.
The Lax Kw’alaams Indian Band says it filed a civil claim in the Supreme Court of British Columbia Thursday against the federal and provincial governments. It seeks to declare Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s tanker ban “an unjustified infringement on the plaintiffs’ aboriginal rights and title.”
It also knocks British Columbia’s establishment of the Great Bear Rainforest, which the ban aims to protect, but which the band disputes because it says it was implemented in its traditional lands without its consent.
The Lax Kw’alaams are among 30 First Nations that launched a GoFundMe campaign in January to challenge the tanker ban in court that has raised $33,000 so far — a third of its target. Other First Nations that support the Eagle Spirit oil pipeline and energy corridor, which requires tankers to transport Alberta oil to Asia, are expected to file similar lawsuits.
For a prime minister that made Indigenous reconciliation and the environment a priority, the court challenge is a problem.