DFN Win Key Battle in Fight to Protect Edehzhie

The Harper Government has failed in its attempt to persuade the Federal Court to dismiss a legal challenge brought by the Dehcho First Nations.

The DFN launched the court challenge in November, 2010, after Canada suddenly decided to terminate the protection of Edéhzhíe and open this nationally significant, pristine area to mining, without any warning to the Dehcho First Nations. After years of working in partnership with DFN to protect the ecologically sensitive Edéhzhíe as a National Wildlife Area, Canada effectively tried to terminate the Protected Areas Strategy by allowing legal protection of the area to expire on October 31, 2010.

In December, 2011 Canada restored protection for about 57% of the Edéhzhíe area, in response to the DFN court challenge. Then, in January, 2012, Canada served a motion to dismiss the DFN case on the grounds that it is moot. Federal lawyers argued that the December, 2011 Order-in-Council, which restored protective sub-surface land withdrawals to part of Edéhzhíe, had substantially addressed DFN concerns and asked that the case be dismissed on the grounds it is now moot. The Court has now rejected the federal position, calling Canada’s decision to terminate protection of Edéhzhíe without consulting the DFN “clearly questionable”.

In dismissing Canada’s position, the court said “Until the entire eight step NWT PAS process is complete, interim protection to the entire Candidate Area should remain in place”.

Today, Grand Chief Herb Norwegian said that he would renew calls by DFN to the Harper Government to restore interim subsurface protection to the entire Edéhzhíe area until the PAS is complete and a permanent protected area is established. “The Court has totally rejected their argument and has agreed with the position put forward by DFN. The Harper Government needs to do the right thing and restore protection for an area that they had previously agreed to protect. This is not complicated”, said Norwegian.

Further Info contact: Grand Chief Herb Norwegian – 867.695.2355