It was a big win in court for the Saik’uz and Stellat’en First Nations

In a unanimous decision yesterday, the B.C. Court of Appeal found the provincial and federal governments had a responsibility to protect the two Nations’ Aboriginal rights from the ongoing harm the Kennedy Dam caused on the Nechako River and their fish populations.

Both First Nations stated they have witnessed a drastic decline in sockeye salmon and Nechako white sturgeon because of the dam.

The Court of Appeal rejected Rio Tinto’s denial of wrongdoing—noting the trial judge had found “hugely negative impacts” on the Nations and affirming “ongoing detrimental impacts of the regulation of the Nechako River’s water flow on the appellants’ Aboriginal right to fish.”

“Our Nation celebrates the affirmation that the Crown cannot wash its hands of impacts from major resource exploitation decisions when it continues to have a role in how that resource is managed. The Court of Appeal issued ‘declarations plus’ ordering the Crown to involve our Nations in decisions and to take substantive actions to manage the river to avoid unnecessary harm—harm that the Court said ‘occurs anew each and every year” – Priscilla Mueller, Saik’uz Chief.

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