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Halalt First Nation appeals river-rights ruling to Supreme Court of Canada

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Halalt First Nation is now taking its Chemainus River water-rights case to Canada's highest court.

Dissatisfied with November's B.C. Court of Appeal ruling that allowed North Cowichan to resume pumping river water to the Chemainus area, the Halalt is asking the Supreme Court of Canada to settle legal arguments about ownership of the river's aquifer wells.

News of Halalt leaders filing a leave to appeal application with Ottawa's high court appears in the band's Jan. 21 press release.

"Halalt lawyer William Andrews said the Supreme Court has been asked to address two key legal issues: who owns the groundwater under the reserve and Aboriginal-title lands; and where a First Nation asserts both Aboriginal rights and title, can the Crown do its consultation based only on the rights, and not the title?" Halalt's release reads.

Those questions spring from the province's November appeal that set aside a 2011 B.C. Supreme Court ruling that stopped municipal water pumping until Victoria held proper project consultation with the Halalt.

Chief James Thomas said his people see themselves as river's stewards, and believed the Supreme Court of Canada appeal will be of national importance.

 

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