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Guelph chapter travels to Ottawa in solidarity with Chippewas Supreme Court challenge

Paul Costello, Matthew Dobbin

The Council of Canadians Guelph chapter was in Ottawa earlier this week to express their solidarity with the Chippewas of the Thames First Nation.

Chapter activists Paul Costello and Matthew Dobbin made the 1,000 kilometre round trip given the importance of Section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982 which is supposed to provide constitutional protection to Aboriginal and treaty rights in this country. Section 35 recognizes and affirms Aboriginal rights, but did not create them – Aboriginal rights existed before Section 35.

The London Free Press has reported, “The Chippewas of the Thames First Nation is headed to the Supreme Court of Canada [on November 30] for an appeal hearing [on the reversal of the flow of the 300,000 barrel per day Line 9] pipeline which travels through Chippewas land, a change which members — along with critics and environmentalists — warn could lead to an environmental catastrophe. The reversal has been greenlighted by the National Energy Board, but, the Chippewas argue, without the Crown first fulfilling its constitutional duty to consult the First Nation.”

That article adds, “While the appeal takes place at the Supreme Court, supporters are organizing a ‘fill-the-Hill’ demonstration in Ottawa that aims to get attention on Parliament Hill down the street. Three buses from Chippewas of the Thames Fist Nation are expected to be packed with demonstrators for the Nov. 30 protest, said Clint Couchie, a band policy analyst. The community hopes many will join the demonstration at the Supreme Court on Nov. 30 and is also seeking financial support with a crowd-funding campaign to cover the legal costs for the appeal.”

Chippewas band council member Myeengun Henry says, “The Canadian government has neglected its duties when it comes section 35 of the Canadian Constitution. Where a project is going to significantly impact our traditional lands, where there is hunting and fishing and gathering, [section 35] provides for meaningful consultation. That’s the basis for us taking this to the Supreme Court.”

A decision by the Supreme Court on this matter in pending.

The Council of Canadians London, Hamilton, Guelph, Peel Region, Toronto, Peterborough-Kawarthas and Northumberland County chapters have been actively supporting the Chippewas of the Thames First Nation.

For numerous blogs about this situation by Council of Canadians Ontario-Quebec organizer Mark Calzavara, please click here.