First Nations, the law and the importance of listening – Alberta Oil Magazine

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First Nations, the law and the importance of listening – Alberta Oil Magazine

by ahnationtalk on May 6, 2015422 Views

And why asking the right questions will always produce better answers

You know that old saying that it’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission? Well, when it comes to the relationship between industry and First Nations, it really couldn’t be much further from the truth. Indeed, doing business by asking for forgiveness rather than permission is a pretty good way to ensure that you’ll get neither, and that’s particularly true in an environment where First Nations are more willing than ever to stand up for their rights – and against the wrongs they believe have been done to them.

The courts are pretty clearly on their side, too. In April, the British Columbia Court of Appeal ruled in favor of the Saik’uz and Stellat’en First Nations in a case that further solidified the primacy of aboriginal title. The two nations alleged that Rio Tinto Alcan’s Kenney Dam, which was built in the 1950s, had damaged the Nechako River system and the fisheries that depended on it. But a lower court had rejected their case against the aluminum giant on the basis that they first had to establish their title before they could sue Rio Tinto Alcan for breaching it. That lower court’s decision was overturned, the latest in a string of verdicts — the most recent, and most important, being last year’s Tsilhqot’in decision — that have clarified the rights that aboriginals have over their land.

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