Government Must Consult First Nations Before Drilling for Oil

Brad_Wall_-_Saskatchewan_Party_leader BY  Daniel Paquet

Target: Bradley John Wall, Premier of Saskatchewan,

Goal: Stop granting oil exploration rights on First Nations land without consulting them.

Exploratory drilling permits for First Nation land have been granted to an Alberta oil company by the Saskatchewan government. This moves comes over the objections of members of the Buffalo River Dene, a Northern Saskatchewan First Nation. Leaders of the Buffalo River Dene have stated repeatedly that they have not been consulted, as is the Saskatchewan government’s responsibility under treaties between Canada and First Nations peoples.

Representatives of the Buffalo River Dene have previously attempted to stop exploration permits being issued for their lands. However, Saskatchewan courts ruled against their claims, stating that the government did not have a duty to consult the First Nation since initial permits did not authorize excavation and land access. Further, the ruling stated that so-called speculative damage did not trigger the government’s treaty obligation to consult the Buffalo Dene. The province did, however, promise to consult the Buffalo River Dene later in the process of approving the project. However, these new permits grant exploratory drilling rights -a fact that clearly makes the damage far less speculative.  

If Saskatchewan wants the project to move forward without violating its treaty obligations it will eventually have to consult the Buffalo River Dene. While provincial officials have stated they want to consult with the Buffalo River Dene community, they have not responded to their letters requesting they be consulted. Sign our petition and let the Premier Wall of Saskatchewan know that we stand in solidarity with the Buffalo River Dene First Nation and echo their calls for the government of Saskatchewan to fulfill its treaty obligations.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Premier Wall of Saskatchewan,

On March 8, 2016 the Saskatchewan government issued exploratory drilling permits for areas that are the lands of the Buffalo River Dene First Nation. The 2013 ruling by the Saskatchewan courts stated that the Saskatchewan government did not have to consult the Buffalo River Dene when issuing the initial permits. However, at that time your government stated unequivocally that it would consult the community further on in the project. Despite that commitment, your government has not responded to attempts of Buffalo River Dene representatives to contact the government of Saskatchewan.

I urge you to fulfill Saskatchewan’s treaty obligations and begin consultation with the Buffalo River Dene First Nation. Whether or not there are proven oil sands on their land, your actions require their consent.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Daniel Paquet

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