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Crown obligations to First Nations

Petition: No. 11

Issue(s): Aboriginal affairs

Petitioner(s): Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation

Date Received: 4 May 1998

Status: Completed

Summary: The petitioner alleged that the construction and operation of the WAC Bennett Dam by B.C. Hydro has permanently destroyed the environment of Indian Reserve 201 (in particular the habitat base for wildlife on the Reserve) and therefore negatively affected a major source of economic opportunity for the First Nation. The matter has been the subject of a long-standing claim by the First Nation against the federal Crown. 

Federal Departments Responsible for Reply: Indian and Northern Affairs Canada

Petition

[Summary only—No consent given to publish petition or reply in full]

The petitioners stated that they had been pursuing a claim for the past six years with Indian and Northern Affairs Canada. They alleged that the Crown was in breach of its common law, statutory, constitutional, and fiduciary obligations to the First Nation by enabling and permitting B.C. Hydro to construct and operate the W.A.C. Bennett Dam. They suggested that the dam was operating in a manner that permanently destroyed the environment of Indian Reserve 201 and a major source of economic opportunity for the First Nation. It was alleged that the damage to the reserve was continuing without any effort at remediation or compensation by Canada or B.C. Hydro.

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Summary of Replies

[Summary of reply only—No consent given to publish petition or reply in full]

In a letter dated 10 August 1998, the Minister requested an extension of time to respond to the petition, stating that a reply was not possible at that time as the matters raised in the petition were the subject of litigation involving the First Nation and the Government of Canada. In a further letter dated 9 June 2001, the Minister indicated that he could not comment further as litigation was ongoing.