Jackpine opposition expensive for Athabasca Chipewyan
'It's a terrible shame, and a very expensive one, for Canadians to continually go back to the courts'
The Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation has asked the Federal Court to declare Ottawa's approval of the Jackpine Mine expansion unlawful, but not everyone agrees going back to court is the best course of action.
The Jackpine Mine Expansion was approved in December, but the ACFN says Canada doesn't have the right to make that call alone.
On Jan. 3, the First Nation filed documents asking for a review of the decision, saying that Canada failed to follow basic rules of consultation.
At least one First Nations oilsands worker says the ACFN should hold a vote to see who supports the latest legal action.
Some say getting tied up in court battles is a waste of money.
"They see that fundamental promise made in the treaties is not being honoured and they have no other recourse but the courts," said Larry Innes, legal counsel for the ACFN.
"But it's a terrible shame, and certainly a very expensive one, for Canadians to continually go back to the courts with the same question — governments want to do something, but they have to ask aboriginal people."
Jenny Biem, lead lawyer for the First Nation says the government's put nothing in place to manage the project's impacts, Including irreversible damage to wetlands and wildlife.
The First Nation already spent over a million dollars on submissions to the joint review panel last November.
"So they went through, spent all that money and were told that Canada would rely on the findings and recommendations of the joint review panel to structure their consultations with ACFN," said Biem. "That has not happened to date, so now we are having to go back to court."
That could end in further costs. Neil Young's tour "Honour the Treaties" is helping foot the legal bill.
The goal is to raise $75,000 for legal defence costs. So far, close to $60,000 has been raised.
The deadline for the federal government to respond to the judicial review is Friday. A hearing is expected to be held later this year.
Athabasca Chipewyan Chief Allan Adam says some youth are getting restless and want to block Highway 63 — the main artery to the oilsands.