Stand with Beaver Lake Cree Nation. Draw the line.
The homeland of the Beaver Lake Cree Nation in northern Alberta is being taken over by Canada’s biggest fossil fuel extraction project: the oil sands.
Beaver Lake Cree Nation is going to court to defend its rights to hunt, fish and practice their culture as guaranteed under Treaty 6. In the process, the Nation is also pushing back against one of the largest and most carbon-intensive energy developments on the planet.
Indigenous people are drawing a line in the sand.
Beaver Lake Cree Nation is challenging the cumulative impacts of industrial development.
Not one project, not one mine: all of them at once.
Time to Defend the Treaties and protect rights
Treaties are living agreements between First Nations and the Crown. All Canadians, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, are therefore treaty people. Treaty rights of the Aboriginal peoples of Canada are affirmed and recognized as central to Canada’s very existence as a nation by The Constitution Act, 1982.
Yet despite these lofty commitments, Canada continues to turn treaty lands like Beaver Lake Cree’s territory into sacrifice zones. Beaver Lake Cree lands, waters and resources have become inaccessible and unusable for the exercise of the Nation’s rights under Treaty 6.
The Supreme Court of Canada has said that although the Crown has a right to authorize land use, there may come a time when treaty rights are rendered meaningless because of too much Crown-authorized land use. Beaver Lake Cree Nation is determined to halt the destruction before it reaches that point. This is what the Defend the Treaties case is all about.
Time to transition off fossil fuels
Canada is home to one of the world’s largest and dirtiest oil reserves – the Alberta oil sands. Scientists have warned that continuing to rely on oil sands oil would mean “game over” for the climate, triggering the melt-off of Antarctic ice and other tipping points. Climate change would then become unstoppable.
Indigenous communities are increasingly taking the lead in the transition to renewable energy. Even as they fight the oil sands giant, the Beaver Lake Cree are solarizing their schools and community buildings – exercising energy sovereignty and building an alternative to the oil and gas economy on their land.
“The beauty of this moment is that our future could easily hold much more than just oil and gas. The time for a just transition beyond fossil fuels is now. The transition in Germany, where they have created 400,000 clean-energy jobs, is waiting to be emulated here,” Beaver Lake Cree’s Crystal Lameman wrote in an editorial for the Globe and Mail.
"Beaver Lake Cree Nation is so very grateful for the unwavering support of our allies; you all have consistently shown up and stepped up when we called out. We lift you up and give thanks to you all. No one said that this would be easy, but we know it will be worth it. Together we stand up together for the health and longevity of our Mother Earth".
-CRYSTAL LAMEMAN, BEAVER LAKE CREE NATION
SUPREME COURT ADVANCE COST RULING
March 18: The Supreme Court of Canada overturned a ruling from Alberta’s top court that Beaver Lake Cree Nation wasn’t entitled to advance funding for its long-running legal case. The Supreme Court said the band was entitled to put first priority for the money it had on “pressing needs.” BLCN must return to lower court to prove need for Advance Costs based on new criteria laid out by the Court.
SUPREME COURT HEARING
November 4: The Supreme Court of Canada will hear Beaver Lake Cree Nation’s appeal to restore its advanced cost order.
SUPREME COURT GIVES LEAVE TO APPEAL
The Supreme Court of Canada announces it will hear Beaver Lake Cree Nation’s appeal to restore its advanced cost order.
BEAVER LAKE CREE FILE APPEAL TO SUPREME COURT
The decision to revoke funding for Beaver Lake Cree essentially closes the door for other Nations to receive advance costs awards to pursue justice. It is a massive setback to reconciliation: that’s why the Beaver Lake Cree are filing an appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada.
CANADA APPEALS, ADVANCE COST REVOKED
Alberta's highest court has overturned an order that would have required the provincial and federal governments to each pay advance legal costs of $300,000 per year to BLCN.
ADVANCE COST AWARD GRANTED
Court of Queen's Bench Justice Beverly Browne ordered the provincial and federal governments to pay advance legal costs in an action she deemed 'of national importance'.
ALBERTA COURT AGREES TO HEAR TAR SANDS TRIAL
The Alberta Court of Appeal ruled in favour of the Beaver Lake Cree. They are the first community to ever be granted a trial in relation to the cumulative impacts this industry has had on inherent Treaty rights.
SERIES OF SPILLS DEVASTATES
One spill was discovered under a lake on the south-west shore, where elders say ancestors are buried. Over 200 animals and amphibians died as a result and over 300,000 kg of oily vegetation was removed from site.
In May, Beaver Cree filed their case, challenging the governments in Canada and Alberta. The case rests on a treaty entered in 1876 under which the Beaver Lake Cree agreed to share land, in return for a guarantee that rights to hunt, fish, and practice culture would be upheld “as long as the sun shines, the grass grows and the rivers flow."
When Beaver Lake Cree Nation declared victory in the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) last March, we didn’t think we’d be telling you this. But: despite a win in the highest court in the land… Beaver Lake Cree Nation (BLCN) is back in court and having to prove, yet again, that they are indeed unable to afford to pay the full cost of its Defend the Treaties trial.
Saddling Indigenous communities with stranded assets — on top of climate disaster and desecrated lands — is no way to set relationships right.
The Beaver Lake Cree belong to the Wood Cree group of the Cree people, who are one of the most numerous tribes in Canada. The Beaver Lake Cree territory is north of Edmonton, and encompasses an area of boreal forest the size of Switzerland. Dotted with hundreds of freshwater lakes and rivers, this land is home to caribou, moose and elk.