Kelly Lake Cree Nation celebrates landmark Supreme Court decision

PRESS RELEASE: Kelly Lake Cree Nation celebrates landmark Supreme Court decision

For the past 20 years, members of the As’in’i’wa’chi Ni’yaw Nation (translated Rocky Mountain Cree, also known as Kelly Lake Cree Nation) have been asked by the courts to prove their existence.

The recent Supreme Court decision in Daniels v. Canada recognizes non-status Indians and obliges Canada to resolve KLCN’s federal claim for Aboriginal rights and title on their traditional lands.

Kelly Lake, BC – April 20, 2016

Members of the As’in’i’wa’chi Ni’yaw Nation are determined to preserve thousands of years of cultural heritage. Translated Rocky Mountain Cree, many of whom live in the Peace Region, the collective Nation is one of few in the region that was not included in the treaty process. As a result, the Government of Canada has refused to recognize Kelly Lake Cree Nation (KLCN) members as “Indians” under the Indian Act of 1876.

That flawed logic can persist no longer, following an historic Canadian Supreme Court judgment released last Thursday.

On April 14, 2016 following a 17-year legal battle, the Supreme Court handed down a decision with significant implications for Canada’s federal government. Not only does the decision affirm KLCN’s Indigenous status, it recognizes and enforces the government’s duty to consult with KLCN as previously outlined in Haida v. BC (2004), Delgamuukw v. BC (1992) and Tshilqot’in v. BC (2014).

The Supreme Court decision takes it one step further, affirming the government’s obligation to resolve KLCN’s land grievance and to fairly compensate KLCN based on precedent set by the Daniels, Haida, Tshilqot’in and Delgamuukw cases.

There are also implications for industry.

Over the past 30 years, the government’s refusal to recognize KLCN’s inherent Indigenous rights has allowed mass exploitation of resources throughout KLCN’s traditional territory, often without KLCN’s consent.

Companies and organization currently operating within or contemplating project development on KLCN’s territory will be compelled to engage in meaningful consultation with KLCN. Resource extraction of any form within the territory will require KLCN’s consent and support.

As a progressive, hardworking Nation, KLCN welcomes economic opportunity and development. KLCN can no longer be excluded, however, from participating in important discussions that impact the land, the people and the community. 

QUOTES

“We are pleased that the Supreme Court of Canada has affirmed what we have been fighting to prove for more than 20 years – that we are an Indigenous people with a traditional inherent government, regardless of what the government-imposed Indian Act process says we should be.”

“The declarations outlined in the Daniels case strengthen our will to resolve our land grievance. We will continue to defend and uphold the inherent Indigenous rights and title to our territory. The Government of Canada is fully aware that we are ready to negotiate an agreement.”

- Chief Kwarakwante Cliff Calliou


QUICK FACTS

  • KLCN peoples are not Métis nor do they have historic ties to the Red River Colony, Manitoba. 
  • KLCN is considered a non-status Indigenous peoples because they have never extinguished their rights and title by signing treaty or by any other legal means.
  • KLCN are a self-governing Nation, not under the Indian Act
  • KLCN are the descendants of Indigenous Cree and Beaver peoples who have lived in the region since time immemorial – some of whom intermarried with Iroquois peoples who came West with the fur trade
  • KLCN traditional territory straddles the current border of the provinces of Alberta and British Columbia, bounded on the north by the Peace River, on the west in British Columbia by the Rocky Mountains, on the south by the boundaries of Treaty 6 and Treaty 8, and on the east in Alberta by the sixth meridian.
  • KLCN is the only Indigenous Nation that has an unresolved land claim within the Peace Region.

MEDIA CONTACT

Melissa Ligertwood, Communications Advisor
Kelly Lake Cree Nation
403.880.7925