A prosperous Northeast B.C. benefits us all. We must manage and use our resources sustainably.

On June 29, 2021 the B.C. Supreme Court ruled that the British Columbia Government breached Blueberry River First Nation’s Treaty 8 rights by over-developing land in its territory.

The Court ordered the B.C. Government to stop allowing new development in the way that it has been, and ordered Blueberry River and the B.C. Government to work out land management rules that protect Blueberry River’s Treaty rights.

Since the Court’s decision, the B.C. Government has honoured the ruling and has stopped issuing new permits for new development that would further infringe its treaty rights. On July 28, 2021, the B.C. government announced it would not appeal the Court’s ruling, meaning the government and Blueberry River must work together to implement the Court’s ruling. This requires establishing protected areas, stronger environmental standards for future development, wildlife protection, and extensive restoration, so the land can heal.

A prosperous northeast benefits us all. But prosperity means more than just profit. It means continuing our way of life in a healthy environment that can sustain us for generations to come. In order for the northeast to remain prosperous, we must manage our resources sustainably, together.

What is Treaty 8?

Treaty 8 is the binding legal agreement that sets out the basis upon which colonial settlement would be allowed in territories that had been occupied and relied upon since time immemorial by Indigenous peoples.

The Treaty was negotiated between representatives of the Canadian government and Indigenous Nations. This resulted in a formal agreement on June 21, 1899 between First Nations of Northern Alberta, Northwestern Saskatchewan, the Southwest portion of the Northwest Territories, and the Crown, with additional agreement with the Nations of Northeast British Columbia following after.

The Treaty sets out continuing rights and obligations on all sides.

The Canadian and Provincial governments are permitted the right to “take up” land from time to time for settlement and development, however this right is subject to (subordinate to) the over-arching essential promise in the Treaty that the Indigenous way of life, centered around hunting, trapping, fishing and the many cultural activities that support that, are to be protected—"as long as the sun shines and rivers flow.”

This means, a healthy environment upon which these rights depend, must be protected.

Treaty rights and Aboriginal rights (commonly referred to as Indigenous rights) are recognized and affirmed in Section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982 and are also a key part of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples which the Government of Canada has committed to adopt.

Treaty No. 8, encompassing a landmass of approximately 840,000 kilometres, is home to 39 First Nations communities, including 23 Alberta First Nations, 3 Saskatchewan First Nations, 6 Northwestern Territories First Nations, and 8 British Columbia First Nations.

The true spirit and intent of this Treaty was based upon principles of law, respect, honesty and acceptance.

For more information about Treaty 8, visit the Treaty 8 Tribal Association website.

Honouring the Treaty 8 relationship

Indigenous peoples have lived on the land we now call Canada for thousands of years, with their own unique cultures, identities, traditions, languages and institutions.

Early partnerships between Indigenous nations and colonial governments were forged through treaties, as well as trade and military alliances, and were based on mutual respect and co-operation. Over many centuries, these relationships were eroded by colonial and paternalistic policies that were enacted into laws.

Treaties provide a framework for living together and sharing the land Indigenous peoples traditionally occupied. These agreements provide foundations for ongoing co-operation and partnership as we move forward together to advance reconciliation.

Honouring the treaty relationship and negotiating new treaties based on the recognition of rights, respect, co-operation and partnership, is key to achieving lasting reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.

Learn more about historic and modern treaties in Canada, treaty rights and the treaty relationship from Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada (CIRNAC).

What did the Court find?

The B.C. government has breached Blueberry River’s Treaty rights by allowing so much development that they can no longer meaningfully carry on their way of life in the territories they have traditionally relied on.

The Court ruling means the B.C. government must stop permitting projects under the old rules in Blueberry River’s territory and work with them to build new rules for land management that recognize and respect Blueberry Rivers’ Treaty rights.

The cumulative impacts to the land and wildlife have displaced Blueberry River members from areas upon which they have relied for generations, impairing the ability to meaningfully continue an Indigenous way of life, centred on hunting, trapping, fishing, that is reliant upon a healthy environment.

As a result of the Court’s ruling, the B.C. government is required to work with Blueberry River to address the cumulative impacts on their lands. Fixing the problem will involve significant changes to provincial laws and regulations, extensive restoration, and land protections.

More specifically, this is a new and essential model for land management that is based upon maintaining a long term sustainable balance of indigenous culture and way of life, healthy environment, with space for economic activity that is a blend of lighter footprint development and extensive restoration.

These restoration and land protection requirements will lead to projects and jobs for everyone in the Northeast for years to come.

FAQ

In 2021, the B.C. Supreme Court's Yahey vBritish Columbia decision confirmed Treaty 8 protects Blueberry River’s way of life from interference, centred on hunting, trapping, and fishing. This includes their right to healthy, mature forests, wildlife habitats, clean waters, and the ability to access these places.

The Court ruled B.C. had breached those rights by allowing too much industrial development over time without Blueberry River’s consent.
The Court made clear the B.C. Government must prevent further infringement and ensure Blueberry River First Nations can meaningfully exercise their Treaty 8 rights to the land.

It also means the Province is required to work with Blueberry River to address the cumulative impacts on their lands.
The Court found that development cannot continue to occur in a way that ignores Blueberry River’s Treaty rights.

It also means the B.C. Government must stop permitting projects under the old rules in Blueberry River’s territory and work with them to build new rules for land management that recognize and respect Blueberry Rivers’ Treaty rights.
No. Some permits for projects were approved after the Court ruling, and the Province of B.C. and Blueberry River are working together to find a path to sustainable development that respects Treaty Rights and strikes a balance between the environment, economy and local jobs.
In order to create and maintain a prosperous Northeast B.C. for all, significant restoration efforts will be undertaken to restore the land back to what it was before industrial impacts.

As a part of these efforts, there will be a multitude of jobs required in order to meet new standards. This will help drive the economy and create new jobs in place of those that may have been lost due to the ruling.
Blueberry River and the Province of B.C. are working together to find a balance that respects Treaty rights and ensures some level of resource development can continue. Negotiations are ongoing.
Treaty No. 8 includes 39 First Nations communities, including 23 Alberta First Nations, 3 Saskatchewan First Nations, 6 Northwestern Territories First Nations, and 8 British Columbia First Nations.

In British Columbia, Treaty No. 8 includes the following Nations:
  1. Blueberry River First Nations
  2. Doig River First Nation
  3. Halfway River First Nation
  4. Prophet River First Nation
  5. Saulteau First Nations
  6. West Moberly First Nations
  7. Fort Nelson First Nation
  8. McLeod Lake Indian Band
No. The Court’s decision only pertains to Blueberry River’s territory. However, any changes made to the regulatory and cumulative impact assessment processes will have impacts across the Province, and for all Treaty 8 Nations.
For more information about Treaty 8, visit the Treaty 8 Tribal Association website.

On June 29, 2021 the B.C. Supreme Court ruled that the British Columbia Government breached Blueberry River First Nation’s Treaty 8 rights by over-developing land in its territory.

The Court ordered the B.C. Government to stop allowing new development in the way that it has been, and ordered Blueberry River and the B.C. Government to work out land management rules that protect Blueberry River’s Treaty rights.

Since the Court’s decision, the B.C. Government has honoured the ruling, and has stopped issuing new permits for new development that would further infringe its treaty rights. On July 28, 2021, the B.C. government announced it would not appeal the Court’s ruling, meaning the government and Blueberry River must work together to implement the Court’s ruling. This requires establishing protected areas, stronger environmental standards for future development, wildlife protection, and extensive restoration, so the land can heal.

A prosperous northeast benefits us all. But prosperity means more than just profit. It means continuing our way of life in a healthy environment that can sustain us for generations to come. In order for the northeast to remain prosperous, we must manage our resources sustainably, together.

What is Treaty 8?

Treaty 8 is the binding legal agreement that set out the basis upon which colonial settlement would be allowed in territories that had been occupied and relied upon since time immemorial by Indigenous peoples.

The Treaty was negotiated between representatives of the Canadian government and Indigenous Nations. This resulted in a formal agreement on June 21, 1899 between First Nations of Northern Alberta, Northwestern Saskatchewan, the Southwest portion of the Northwest Territories, and the Crown, with additional agreement with the Nations of Northeast British Columbia following after.

The Treaty sets out continuing rights and obligations on all sides.

The Canadian and Provincial governments are permitted the right to “take up” land from time to time for settlement and development, however this right is subject to (subordinate to) the over-arching essential promise in the Treaty that the Indigenous way of life, centered around hunting, trapping, fishing and the many cultural activities that support that, are to be protected—"as long as the sun shines and the rivers flow.”

This means, a healthy environment upon which these rights depend, must be protected.

Treaty rights and Aboriginal rights (commonly referred to as Indigenous rights) are recognized and affirmed in Section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982 and are also a key part of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples which the Government of Canada has committed to adopt.

Treaty No. 8, encompassing a landmass of approximately 840,000 kilometres, is home to 39 First Nations communities, including 23 Alberta First Nations, 3 Saskatchewan First Nations, 6 Northwestern Territories First Nations, and 8 British Columbia First Nations.

The true spirit and intent of this Treaty was based upon principles of law, respect, honesty and acceptance.

For more information about Treaty 8, visit the Treaty 8 Tribal Association website.

Honouring the Treaty 8 relationship

Indigenous peoples have lived on the land we now call Canada for thousands of years, with their own unique cultures, identities, traditions, languages and institutions.

Early partnerships between Indigenous nations and colonial governments were forged through treaties, as well as trade and military alliances, and were based on mutual respect and co-operation. Over many centuries, these relationships were eroded by colonial and paternalistic policies that were enacted into laws.

Treaties provide a framework for living together and sharing the land Indigenous peoples traditionally occupied. These agreements provide foundations for ongoing co-operation and partnership as we move forward together to advance reconciliation.

Honouring the treaty relationship and negotiating new treaties based on the recognition of rights, respect, co-operation and partnership, is key to achieving lasting reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.

Learn more about historic and modern treaties in Canada, treaty rights and the treaty relationship from Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada (CIRNAC).

What did the Court find?

The B.C. government has breached Blueberry River’s Treaty rights by allowing so much development that they can no longer meaningfully carry on their way of life in the territories they have traditionally relied on.

The Court ruling means the B.C. Government must stop permitting projects under the old rules in Blueberry River’s territory and work with them to build new rules for land management that recognize and respect Blueberry Rivers’ Treaty rights.

The cumulative impacts to the land and wildlife have displaced Blueberry River members from areas upon which they have relied for generations, impairing the ability to meaningfully continue an Indigenous way of life, centred on hunting, trapping, fishing, that is reliant upon a healthy environment.

As a result of the Court’s ruling, the B.C. Government is required to work with Blueberry River to address the cumulative impacts on their lands. Fixing the problem will involve significant changes to provincial laws and regulations, extensive restoration, and land protections.

More specifically, this is a new and essential model for land management that is based upon maintaining a long term sustainable balance of indigenous culture and way of life, healthy environment, with space for economic activity that is a blend of lighter footprint development and extensive restoration.

These restoration and land protection requirements will lead to projects and jobs for everyone in the Northeast for years to come.

What are the outcomes of the cumulative effects court case?

In 2021, the B.C. Supreme Court's Yahey vBritish Columbia decision confirmed Treaty 8 protects Blueberry River’s way of life from interference, centred on hunting, trapping, and fishing. This includes their right to healthy, mature forests, wildlife habitats, clean waters, and the ability to access these places.

The Court ruled B.C. had breached those rights by allowing too much industrial development over time without Blueberry River’s consent.


What does the court decision mean/what will change?

The Court made clear the B.C. Government must prevent further infringement and ensure Blueberry River First Nations can meaningfully exercise their Treaty 8 rights to the land.

It also means the Province is required to work with Blueberry River to address the cumulative impacts on their lands.


What does this mean for resource development in the area?

The Court found that development cannot continue to occur in a way that ignores Blueberry River’s Treaty rights.

It also means the B.C. Government must stop permitting projects under the old rules in Blueberry River’s territory and work with them to build new rules for land management that recognize and respect Blueberry Rivers’ Treaty rights.


Does this mean resource development will stop completely in Blueberry’s traditional territory?

No. Some permits for projects were approved after the Court ruling, and the Province of B.C. and Blueberry River are working together to find a path to sustainable development that respects Treaty Rights and strikes a balance between the environment, economy and local jobs.


What does this mean for me as a resident of Northeast B.C.?

In order to create and maintain a prosperous Northeast B.C. for all, significant restoration efforts will be undertaken to restore the land back to what it was before industrial impacts.

As a part of these efforts, there will be a multitude of jobs required in order to meet new standards. This will help drive the economy and create new jobs in place of those that may have been lost due to the ruling.


When will an agreement be reached between Blueberry River & the Province of B.C.?

Blueberry River and the Province of B.C. are working together to find a balance that respects Treaty rights and ensures some level of resource development can continue. Negotiations are ongoing.


What Nations are part of Treaty 8?

Treaty No. 8 includes 39 First Nations communities, including 23 Alberta First Nations, 3 Saskatchewan First Nations, 6 Northwestern Territories First Nations, and 8 British Columbia First Nations.

In British Columbia, Treaty No. 8 includes the following Nations:

  1. Blueberry River First Nations
  2. Doig River First Nation
  3. Halfway River First Nation
  4. Prophet River First Nation
  5. Saulteau First Nations
  6. West Moberly First Nations
  7. Fort Nelson First Nation
  8. McLeod Lake Indian Band

Does the Court Decision impact all B.C. Treaty 8 Nations?

No. The Court’s decision only pertains to Blueberry River’s territory. However, any changes made to the regulatory and cumulative impact assessment processes will have impacts across the Province, and for all Treaty 8 Nations.


Where can I learn more about Treaty 8?

For more information about Treaty 8, visit the Treaty 8 Tribal Association website.

Timeline

Treaty 8 signed at Slave Lake.
1899
Treaty 8 was adhered to by ancestors of Blueberry River.
1900

The government approves and permits projects in Treaty 8 areas which leads to accumulating development in Blueberry River territory.

Image Source: Fort St. John North Peace Museum

1906 - 2010
Atlas of landcover, industrial land uses and industrial-cause land changes in the Peace Region of BC released (produced by Global Forest Watch Canada).
2012

Province approves more than 2,600 oil and gas wells, 1,884 kms of roads and 1,500 kms of new seismic lines in Blueberry River’s territory.

Image Source: Province of British Columbia some rights reserved

2012 - 2016

Blueberry River Files Civil Claim in B.C. Supreme Court against the B.C. government for breach of Treaty rights based on cumulative impacts.

March 3, 2015
The Atlas of Cumulative Landscape Disturbance in the Traditional Territory of Blueberry River First Nations released (was a joint effort with David Suzuki Foundation & Ecotrust Canada).
June 28, 2016

Blueberry River First Nations v. Province of B.C. Court Case begins.

May 27, 2019

The Court rules entirely in Blueberry River’s favour.

June 29, 2021

The Attorney General for B.C. announced the Province will not appeal the Court’s ruling. The Court’s full judgement will remain in force and negotiations for land management that respects & protects Blueberry River’s Treaty rights can begin.

July 28, 2021

Contact

Contact us at info@wherehappinessdwells.ca.

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