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NEWS: Beaver Creek Cree Nation pursues court challenge for damages done by the tar sands

The Canadian Press reports, “An Alberta court says a northern aboriginal group’s lawsuit claiming damages for 15 years of energy development on traditional lands can proceed.” The Beaver Lake Cree Nation is located north-east of Edmonton. It currently has about 900 members.

“The Beaver Lake band says both (the provincial and federal) governments have failed to monitor cumulative impacts of energy development and they are now affecting its way of life.” They claim that tar sands operations are obliterating their traditional hunting and fishing lands. Chief Al Lameman says they can no longer find caribou herds where caribou were abundant just 12 years ago. Moose are also being displaced in large numbers and cannot be found.

“Judge Beverley Browne ruled the band raises important questions about what governments owe aboriginals when they approve developments on traditional land. …But (she) also says that even if the Beaver Lake band wins its case, it can’t ask the government to revoke more than 19,000 development permits already issued for the area.”

“The provincial and federal governments fought to have the lawsuit thrown out. They have called it frivolous.” But RAVEN, a charitable organization that provides financial resources to assist Aboriginal Nations within Canada in lawfully forcing industrial development to be reconciled with their traditional ways of life, notes, “This case is the first time the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench has approved large scale litigation seeking to curtail industrial activity based on treaty rights. And it introduces the concept of court-supervised relations between the parties pending a resolution of the trial.”

The full Canadian Press article can be read at http://www.cbc.ca/m/touch/business/story/2012/03/30/edmonton-aboriginal-lawsuit.html. The RAVEN media release is at http://www.watershedsentinel.ca/content/court-allows-beaver-lake-cree-challenge-tar-sands. The Beaver Lake Cree Nation website is at http://www.beaverlakecreenation.ca/.