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Ruling expected next week on Sinixt case

Nelson Daily Editor
By Nelson Daily Editor
February 17th, 2011

The BC Supreme Court will issue a ruling on Feb. 25 whether the Sinixt Nation should be consulted regarding logging at Perry Ridge.

At issue

The Sinixt contend the Crown failed to do its duty to consult them in the course of issuing Timber Sale Licence A80073 to Sunshine Logging.

On Nov. 4, 2010, Justice Wilcox conditionally upheld the Sinixt’s action of interest to protect Perry Ridge by staying Sunshine Logging’s injunction to remove a November blockade by the Sinixt on a Forest Service access road.

The court has temporarily prevented logging from happening, but the Sinixt are looking for a firm injunction against logging in the area.

The first application is that the Sinixt apply for an order quashing the logging licence and the road building permit on the basis that the Province issued them in the absence of consultation with the Sinixt.

The Sinixt have contended the Province is under duty to consult where there is credible claim of aboriginal rights and title. Whether or not the Sinixt have credence as a First Nation will also likely be dealt with in the course of the case.

Although the Province hasn’t raised the question of whether or not the Sinixt are a first nation, the Crown has brought in application to strike the petition, the instrument by which the Sinixt have advanced their claim.

The Province is looking to have the petition declared inadmissible based on the fact the petitioners (Sinixt) are not appropriate representatives of any definable aboriginal rights claimant.

They are challenging the fact that the petitioners are even defendants of the historic group identified as Sinixt. The Province is saying there is no evidence to show that they are who they say they are.

A look back

Perry Ridge is the source of drinking water for many residents in the lower Slocan River valley, some 30 kilometres northwest of Nelson.

Over the last 20 years the Sinixt declared its intention to protect public drinking watershed sources within its traditional lands, a legislative policy formerly maintained by the BC government.

The duty to consult First Nations on a timber sale licence arises when the Crown has knowledge of a potential Aboriginal claim or right on the land, said Aaron.

Although the Sinixt case for rights and claims is still before the court to have their “extinct” status lifted with the federal government, the issue on Perry Ridge is not about extinct status but on the duty to consult aboriginal people, Aaron had said earlier.

Aaron said the Province’s decision to issue Timber Sale Licence A80073 has adverse impacts on the Sinixt’s pending Aboriginal claims and rights. 

ge. Stay tuned for the latest update. 

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