Court allows Saik’uz and Stellat’en First Nations to seek new declaratory relief in Alcan Claim
February 28, 2019
In a decision issued January 30, 2019, BC Supreme Court Justice Nigel Kent granted the Saik’uz and Stellat’en First Nations permission to amend their court claim to seek declaratory relief should they prove their allegations against Rio Tinto Alcan. Specifically, Justice Kent found that they could seek an injunction that would require Rio Tinto Alcan to “reinstate the functional flows that make up the natural flow of the Nechako River.” They could also secure declarations that would effectively require the federal and provincial governments to enforce the injunction.
This was the latest turn in a court case that dates back to October 2011 when a lawsuit against the company was first filed.
Located about 185 km west of Prince George, the Kenney Dam was constructed in 1952 and created the massive Nechako Reservoir which provides hydro power to Alcan’s aluminum smelter in Kitimat in northwest B.C. and diverts approximately 70% of the flow of the Nechako River.
The lawsuit claims that Alcan has caused a nuisance affecting the First Nations’ constitutionally-protected aboriginal interests, including aboriginal title and an aboriginal right to fish, and that the 1987 and 1997 Settlement Agreements entered into by Alcan and B.C. and Canada are not valid defenses against the claims. The matter is scheduled for a 200-day trial commencing in September of this year.
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