Double your impact for Beaver Lake Cree Nation
19 years ago, as Tsilhqot’in Nation was fighting its groundbreaking title case, the Nation accessed a little-known but powerful tool. Called an Advanced Cost Order, it provided funding to pursue a precedent-setting, nationally-important challenge, equipping the Tsilhqot’in to stand up against Canada’s army of justice department lawyers.
With the financial stamina to pursue the case long-term, the litigation made it to the Supreme Court of Canada. In 2014, a panel of judges unanimously declared that Tsilhqot’in hold Aboriginal title to a large swath of their lands, recognizing the right to proactively control and manage the land. It is the first such declaration from the Court in Canadian history.
At the same time, a new challenge was being shaped by Beaver Lake Cree Nation. With exponential growth of oil and gas projects in their territory, Beaver Lake Cree faced a stark choice: let go of their stewardship responsibilities and allow the tar sands to darkly bloom all around them, or stand up, and defend Treaty 6 in court.
But that decision has come at an enormous cost. Strewn in the path have been multiple government attempts to derail the case. It’s all part of a pattern of ‘deny, delay and outspend’ that forces many Indigenous plaintiffs to abandon legal actions due to financial exhaustion.
In 2019, Beaver Lake Cree Nation applied for — and was granted — the same type of Advanced Cost Order that helped Tsilhqot’in Nation go the distance. As those of you who read this newsletter may know, that cost order now hangs in the balance after a cynical appeal by Alberta overturned the lower court ruling. This has forced the Nation into the ugly position of having to argue yet again — on their own dime — that after two centuries of colonialism and state neglect they are indeed impoverished. Now, the fate of their larger treaty case is in jeopardy.
The final reckoning, in the Supreme Court of Canada, comes this November 4th.
Just as treaties are only meaningful if they are upheld, justice is only achievable if it is accessible.
All donations are being DOUBLED for Beaver Lake Cree Nation! Let’s carry this case all the way to the Supreme Court and defend every Indigenous Nation’s right to access to justice. Donate: raventrust.com/defend-the-
Treaty rights may be the most powerful instruments we have to safeguard ecologically important lands and waters.
If Beaver Lake Cree Nation wins this, the precedent they set will keep the door open for First Nations’ access to justice across the country. While the Nation is up against deep-pocketed opponents, Beaver Lake Cree Nation has the deeper roots: their connection to the land that has endured since time immemorial. Those roots are being nourished by the incredible RAVEN community.