The Tlicho Government has won an injunction to stop — at least temporarily — the federal government's plan to do away with the Wek'eezhii Land and Water Board.
The immediate implications of the written ruling, handed down by the Northwest Territories Supreme Court late Friday afternoon, extend beyond the board for the Tlicho region, however, and will delay the federal government's plan to introduce a new superboard for regulating all activity in the Mackenzie Valley.
The new, 11-person superboard — which is meant to replace the Wek'eezhii, Sahtu and Gwich'in land and water boards — was supposed to come into effect on April 1. The federal government recently said the appointment process for this superboard is already well underway.
But in its decision, the Supreme Court said the legislation calling for the superboard frustrates the court's ability to spare the Wek'eezhii board alone from extinction.
"Attempting to carve out an exemption for the WLWB could see the court going beyond interpretation and into the realm of drafting legislation, something that is beyond the scope of its authority," the court wrote in its decision.
The injunction, which will also protect the Gwich'in and Sahtu land and water boards, will remain in place until the court can hear and rule on the Tlicho Government's argument that doing away with the boards violates the Tlicho Agreement.
"Granting an injunction would cause delay, but it would not disrupt the current regulatory system," the court wrote.
Nuri Frame, a lawyer for the Tlicho Government, said Saturday the Tlicho government is expected to issue a press release soon.
The federal government can appeal the injunction in the N.W.T. Court of Appeal, he added.
The Tlicho were the first aboriginal group to go to court to protect their land and water board.
Earlier this week, the Sahtu Secretariat announced they too are going to court in an attempt to protect the Sahtu Land and Water Board.