STAND UP FOR INDIGENOUS JUSTICE
This November 4, Beaver Lake Cree Nation will appear before the Supreme Court of Canada.
First Nations are massively outspent in the country’s courts.
Though Nations are up against powerful corporate and government interests, nonetheless Indigenous peoples are winning case after case, advancing rights and changing the landscape for future generations.
In 2019, this small Indigenous community was granted an advance cost award to pursue a massive treaty rights challenge . Located in the midst of Canada’s oil sands, Beaver Lake Cree Nation is taking legal action against Canada and Alberta over the cumulative effects of multiple oil sands projects that have despoiled the land and waters that have sustained Indigenous Peoples for millennia.
After years of costly delays —and despite having raised hundreds of thousands of dollars — by 2018, Beaver Lake Cree Nation’s litigation fund was exhausted. After a judge determined that the Beaver Lake Cree case was in the national interest, she ordered Canada and Alberta to pay a portion of the Nation’s legal costs. It looked like Beaver Lake Cree Nation was finally on track to bring their groundbreaking case to trial.
Cynically, Canada and Alberta appealed and in 2020, Beaver Lake Cree Nation’s advanced cost award was revoked. The decision didn’t just take away Beaver Lake Cree’s best chance to access justice; it created a new, stringent standard for advanced costs — a standard that would be very hard if not impossible to meet for any other First Nation seeking advanced costs in the future.
This precedent cannot stand. Beaver Lake Cree Nation is headed to the Supreme Court of Canada to challenge it.
Let Beaver Lake Cree Nation know you support this Supreme Court challenge. Sign the petition.
A win for Beaver Lake Cree Nation at the Supreme Court would set a precedent allowing Indigenous Nations who want to bring strategic legal challenges — but lack the funds to carry the cases on their own — to access justice.
It would also set Beaver Lake Cree Nation back on the path to pursuing its historic “Defend the Treaties” case: a powerful strategy to curtail the expansion of oil sands at a time of climate emergency.