Beaver Lake Cree Nation: Anderson v. Alberta
Court: Supreme Court of Canada
File number: 39323
Citation: Anderson v. Alberta, 2022 SCC 6 (CanLII), <https://canlii.ca/t/jn604>, retrieved on 2022-10-13
TAGS: Access to Justice, Advance Costs
First Nations should not be required to choose between meeting the basic needs of their communities and pursuing publicly important litigation in order to qualify for advance costs.
Beaver Lake Cree Nation’s “Defend the Treaties” constitutional challenge, filed in 2008, argues that the cumulative impacts of industry in their territory amount to breach of Treaty. In 2019 Beaver Lake Cree Nation won an Advance Costs order that would have divided trial costs equally among the BLCN, Canada and Alberta.That decision was overturned by Alberta’s appeal court, leaving the Nation struggling to find ways to pay for its groundbreaking Defend the Treaties case.
In March the Supreme Court of Canada delivered its decision Anderson v. Alberta on whether Canada and Alberta must pay a portion of Beaver Lake Cree Nation’s legal fees in its landmark treaty infringement case.
The Court allowed the appeal and held that First Nations should not be required to choose between meeting the basic needs of their communities and pursuing publicly important litigation in order to qualify for advance costs.
While the SCC ruling requires Beaver Lake Cree Nation to go back to the trial judge for a deep dive into BLCN’s financial situation and how it meets the fine-print criteria set out by the court , their appeal is a huge win for access to justice. On March 18, 2022 the court recognized that respecting Indigenous self-determination — to take care of pressing community needs first, before spending on court costs — must come first in an era of reconciliation.
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