ONTARIO REGIONAL CHIEF STAN BEARDY RESPONDS TO TODAY’S SUPREME COURT KEEWATIN DECISION SAYING INDIGENOUS LAWS AND TREATIES WILL NOT BE TRAMPLED BY CANADA’S JUDICIAL BRANCH
TORONTO, ON (JULY 11, 2014) — Ontario Regional Chief Stan Beardy today commented on the Supreme Court of Canada’s Keewatin decision calling it a breach of Canada’s obligations to uphold international laws/standards and undermines Indigenous laws that have already been in place for centuries.
“Despite the decision, First Nations will continue to challenge provincial actions that contravene their own laws and Assertions,” Ontario Regional Chief Beardy said. “The question that is being missed today is how did Canada and Ontario come to say they have decision-making power over First Nations’ homelands in the first place? Please, let us not forget how the Treaties validated First Nations’ Nationhood prior to Canada becoming a country, and prior to having a Supreme Court.”
Compared to First Nations laws, Canada’s laws are relatively new. “The Ojibways in Treaty 3 have been consistently clear that they will continue to enforce their Resource Law over any newer laws or court decisions as Sovereign peoples, so I am going with that,” said Ontario Regional Chief Beardy.
"Respectful resource development requires collaborative decision making respectful of First Nations original title, laws and Assertions. This respect requires Ontario to exceed the duty to consult and accommodate referenced in the Supreme Court’s decision.”
Grassy Narrows First Nation reported that scientific studies indicate that clearcut logging in boreal watersheds raises mercury levels in fish above the Health Canada limit for safe human consumption. The studies also say recent clearcut logging in Grassy Narrows territory has exacerbated the impact of mercury poisoning that began when a paper mill upstream in Dryden, Ont., dumped mercury between 1962 and 1970.
The Chiefs of Ontario is a political forum and a secretariat for collective decision making, action, and advocacy for the 133 First Nation communities located within the boundaries of the province of Ontario, Canada. Follow Chiefs of Ontario on Facebook or Twitter @ChiefsOfOntario.