The Hupacasath First Nation will return to court today in the latest stage of its ongoing legal challenge of the controversial Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Act (FIPPA). The Federal Court of Appeal in Vancouver (701W W Georgia Street) will hear arguments in the case from 9:30 am – 12:30 pm. Chief Steven Tatoosh and Brenda Sayers of Hupacasath First Nation will address supporters and be available for media comment outside the courtroom immediately following the hearing.
Brenda Sayers, Hupacasath First Nation, expressed “We are deeply concerned about the Investor State Arbitration (ISA) clause in the Canada China FIPPA that will allow a foreign state owned corporations to sue Canada for anything which interfere with their ability to make profit, including First Nations rights and title. These claims can range into the billions depending on the project. Currently there are several proposed projects that FIPPA may negatively impact First Nations who are in dispute with the government. The ISA provisions of the FIPPA will undermine First Nation’s rights to protect their lands and resources or make decisions that benefit or protect their people. As well, the ISA will prohibit provincial and municipal governments from protecting their citizens. Everyone’s constitutional rights will be at the mercy of corporate gain.”
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip exclaimed “The Government of Canada's main argument is during the negotiation and ratification process of FIPPA was there was no 'causal link' to Indigenous Peoples’ Title, Rights and Treaty Rights. Rights which would trigger the fiduciary duty to consult. If this is a fact why do many members of the Conservative Caucus cite this case as a primary obstacle the Harper Government has not ratified FIPPA?” said Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs.
Hupacasath Chief Councillor Steven Tatoosh stated “Appealing the Federal Court decision is very important to Hupacasath because the Canada China will have a minimum negative impact of 31 years. Our children and grand children and many generations to come must have the same rights we enjoy today. Challenging the terms of FIPPA is the only way we can guarantee our future rights. Hupacasath would like to extend our heartfelt thanks to all our supporters across Canada for helping us get to the Court of Appeal”
Chief Bill Erasmus, Dene National Chief remarked “The proposed FIPPA cannot be approved without prior approval of First Nations. Dene Treaties #8 & 11 with the British Crown in Right of Canada are legitimate International instruments that have legal standing. We the Dene already proved in Canada’s courts that we are the prima facie land owners and have an interest in 450,000 sq. miles of land. This land mark decision by Justice William Morrow in 1973 established at law that the federal government has a legal constitutional obligation to uphold. Dene title does exist and proposed projects like the Keystone XL and Northern Gateway violates the relationship that has been established and recognized in Canada’s Constitution Act, 1982. We ask the courts to instruct Canada in this regard”
“This challenge is about far more than the impacts this unbalanced deal will have on one First Nation,” says Maude Barlow, national chairperson of the Council of Canadians, one of the organizations supporting Hupacasath. “It is about preserving the right at all levels of government to implement policies to protect our environment, our health and our people without the threat of a challenge under FIPPA from Chinese corporations. For taking this courageous stand the Hupacasath deserve both our support and our sincere thanks.”
The Hupacasath First Nation was supported at the Federal Court of Canada with legal affidavits from Serpent River First Nation and the Tsawwassen First Nation, along with the Union of BC Indian Chiefs and the Chiefs of Ontario. Dozens of national organizations including Leadnow.ca, the Council of Canadians, Idle No More, BC Federation of Labour, BC Teachers Federation, National Farmers Union, Unifor and KAIROS and fully supported the legal action, and thousands of Canadians have donated to the Hupacasath Legal Support Fund to make this appeal possible.