Canadian Manufacturing

Supreme Court refuses to hear appeal over Jackpine oilsands expansion in Alberta

First Nation wanted regulatory board to rule whether band had been adequately consulted

OTTAWA—The Supreme Court of Canada is ending the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation’s bid to block a ruling on Shell’s Jackpine oilsands mine expansion in northern Alberta.

The First Nation wanted a regulatory board to rule on whether the band had been adequately consulted before it decided if the Shell project could go ahead.

The board said governments should determine how much consultation is adequate and the Alberta Court of Appeal agreed; the high court is refusing to hear an appeal of that decision.

“We are truly disappointed with this decision as we have diligently proceeded through legal avenues to have our rights upheld,” Chief Allan Adam of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation said in a statement.

“We understand that this joint review panel was supposed to uphold everyone’s constitutional rights; why has there been an exception with regards to First Nations’ consultation rights? Government must be held accountable to their treaty obligations.”

The Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation also says the decision means the board will make a Jackpine decision without anyone considering whether their right to adequate consultation has been fulfilled.

The First Nation hinted it may mount another bid to block the ruling.

“We do not know the reasons why the Supreme Court did not grant (Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation) hearing; it is clear that we will not find access to justice within Alberta,” Adam said.

“We will have to decide if we move ahead with different legal strategies to uphold our rights.”

The Supreme Court is also refusing to hear an appeal by B.C.’s Adams Lake Indian Band, which claims it was not adequately consulted before the province established a municipality on lands they claim as their own.

As is its usual practice, the high court did not release reasons for its decisions.

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