January 31, 2017
Recent Decision from the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia
(INDIAN BROOK FIRST NATION, NS) – The Supreme Court of Nova Scotia has decided to quash the decision of the Minister of Environment which denied the Appeal of Sipekne’katik from the decision permitting Alton Gas to create salt caverns by dumping significant amounts of brine into the Shubenacadie River.
The Court found that the Minister had been unfair in dealing with Sipekne’katik’s appeal by refusing to allow Sipekne’katik to respond to material provided by the Office of Aboriginal Affairs and the Department of Environment to support the government’s claim that it had consulted with Sipekne’katik about the Alton project as required by Section 35 of the Canadian Constitution.
A spokesperson for Sipekne’katik said that the Minister kept this information secret and hid the approach of the two departments which was to attempt to criticize and blame Sipekne’katik for the Government’s failure to adequately consider Mi’kmaq rights.
“The unfair treatment of Sipekne’katik by the Minister compounded the earlier unfair treatment of the Department of the Environment and its refusal to engage in meaningful consultations with us about the negative impact of brining the Shubenacadie River had on our Treaty and Aboriginal rights to fish, hunt and gather in that river and the issue of unsettled Aboriginal title on lands within our traditional territory that are affected by the project.”
The spokesperson added “The whole attitude of the Province to recognizing the rights of Sipekne’katik was seriously tainted by the initial view that the Mi’kmaq were a conquered people who deserved little, if any consideration when environmental harm to their communities are at stake.”
The decision of the Court means that the Sipekne’katik appeal will be remitted back to the Minister to decide fairly. “Sipekne’katik has been successful on this appeal” wrote Justice Hood. One of the next steps for Sipekne’katik will be to address costs that the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia awarded to the Band.
Sipekne’katik is a Mi’kmaq Band in Nova Scotia with over 2,600 members throughout Mi’kma’ki and beyond. Sipekne’katik represents itself in all consultation and negotiation matters that concern Sipekne’katik.
For more information, contact:
Chief Michael P. Sack, Sipekne’katik
Phone: 902.758.2049 ext. 222; Cell: 902.890.8236; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org