Go Burnt Pine Caribou Herd!

Ng Ariss Fong, Lawyers, is proud to sponsor the University of Ottawa’s twitter team, who represent the intervener Treaty 8 First Nations of Alberta.  We expect this event to provide an entertaining and compelling review of the important aboriginal and constitutional law  issues at stake. These issues are far from settled, as the Province has appealed the BCCA’s decision in this case to the Supreme Court of Canada. To keep track of events as they progress, be sure to subscribe (the Hashtag for this event for those on Twitter is #twtmoot) and tune in on February 21st, as the event goes live! We wish all participants the best of luck and in particular, our sponsored University of Ottawa twitter team which will be arguing for the aboriginal right to hunt and protect the remaining 11 members of the herd.

Background: West Moberley First Nations v. British Columbia, 2011 BCCA 247

The case of West Moberley First Nations v. British Columbia represents the latest chapter in Canadian jurisprudence regarding First Nations treaty rights. Unlike most B.C. First Nations, whose rights flow from prior occupation of their traditional territory, the West Moberly First Nation’s right to hunt is recognized due to their adherence to one of Canada’s “numbered treaties”; in this case, Treaty Number 8. Traditionally, West Moberly’s ancestors had hunted in a seasonal round, and included caribou as one of their major resources. However, the caribou’s numbers have declined to the point where hunting is no longer an option, and West Moberly asserts that a plan for exploratory drilling approved by the Province risks extirpating the Burnt Pine caribou herd in its entirety. The first question before the moot court is whether the right to hunt guaranteed under Treaty 8 provides West Moberly with the right to hunt a specific species, i.e. caribou, and by extension protect the herd from extirpation. The second is whether the Crown’s “duty to consult” with West Moberly regarding this potential infringement of their treaty right is affected by prior history. Specifically, the question is whether the court’s review of the Crown’s consultation measures should take into account the actions by the Crown and others that caused the Burnt Pine caribou herd to be reduced to its 11 current members.

For more background on the case, the university teams, and the judges, here is the link to West Coast Environmental Law’s twitter moot site here.