Logging stopped as Sinixt win injunction in court
By Timothy Schafer, The Nelson Daily
A hotspot of environmental and political activity on Perry Ridge will now be cooled until the new year.
The Sinixt Nation protest camp and blockade on Perry Ridge Forest Service Road will be dismantled after the aboriginal group was successful Monday afternoon in obtaining an injunction prohibiting any logging or road building on Perry Ridge, located 30 kilometres west of Nelson in the Slocan Valley.
Sinixt lawyer David Aaron said the BC Supreme Court in Vancouver issued the injunction pending hearing of the Sinixt’s aboriginal rights application.
As a result, the Court has ordered an interim preservation of the status quo and effectively stopped the efforts of Kaslo’s Sunshine Logging to make good on Timber Sale Licence A80073 they received from BC Timber Sales.
“The determination of constitutional rights is a process, and the courts today recognized that, pending the opportunity for that process to properly come before the courts, there is to be no logging or road building on Perry Ridge,” said Aaron.
Since that injunction fulfilled the same requirement as the protest camp, the camp is now coming down.
The Sinixt were contending the Crown failed to do its duty to consult the Sinixt in the course of issuing the timber sale licence to Sunshine Logging.
Aaron is arguing the duty to consult First Nations on a timber sale licence arises when the Crown has knowledge of a potential aboriginal claim or right on the land. The Sinixt case for rights and claims as a First Nation is still before the court to have their “extinct” status lifted with the federal government.
However, recognition isn’t the intent of the Perry Ridge court battle, said Aaron. The Sinixt are seeking to have their rights respected, with the logging licence issued to Sunshine Logging the subject of a Constitutional challenge scheduled for a five-day hearing in Vancouver in the new year.
The case is expected to establish inclusion of the Sinixt within the category of persons to which aboriginal rights are accorded, contained within Section 35 of the Canadian Constitution.
The issue is the Crown violated Section 35 by issuing a timber sale licence without consultation with the Sinixt.
“You can’t deny the Sinixt the right based on the fact they are not registered Indians under the Indian Act. It’s neither here nor there,” said Aaron.
According to Aaron, the Sinixt have been demanding consultation regarding development plans on Perry Ridge since at least 1997. A letter of Oct. 7, 2008 from Aaron asking for the Crown to consult with the Sinixt on Perry Ridge received no reply from BC Timber Sales.
The Sinixt have contended that industrial development on Perry Ridge could jeopardize Sinixt archaeological sites, exacerbate geological instability with the risk of slope failure, disrupt water quality and quantity, and threaten endangered species over which the Sinixt exercise “aboriginal rights.”