The McLeod Lake Indian Band is seeking a court order to stop transfer of land it claims as traditional territory to the West Moberly First Naiton.
In a notice of claim and an accompanying notice of application filed August 27 in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver, the MLIB listed 29 parcels it says the federal and provincial governments are in the process of handing over to the WMFN through a settlement agreement.
The documents were filed two weeks after the MLIB received notice from the federal and provincial governments that they intend to take the step.
According to the notice of application, the Crown initiated consultation with the MLIB regarding the WMFN's selection of parcels in December 2018 but it took until early February 2021 for MLIB to secure funding from the federal and provincial governments to carry out its work.
In the interim, the MLIB "did its best to engage the Crown on the issue of WMFN selection."
At the end of April, the MLIB provided the federal and provincial governments a list of the parcels over which it had concerns. It also identified the amount of food harvested and culture and knowledge sharing associated with the parcels and objected to the federal and provincial governments characterizing the uses proposed by WMFN as "highest and best use" in comparison with MLIB's activities.
Two weeks later, the federal and provincial governments requested specifics on the types of food harvested, methods used to obtain it and the amounts. In early July, MLIB replied, saying it is not incumbent on the First Nation to provide the information and that is was enough to confirm that MLIB members get their primary food sources from the parcels.
The federal and provincial governments subsequently decided to proceed with a proposed agreement with the WMFN, bringing the matter to a head.
Although still only a proposal, the MLIB maintains taking the step will make it will be "very difficult, if not impossible" for the Crown to unwind the agreement should the MLIB be successful with its action, it says in the notice of application.
The MLIB is seeking a temporary injunction while the matter is worked out. The parcels in question are located in the vicinities of Moberly Lake, Chetwynd, Tumbler Ridge, Summit Lake and Stewart Lake in the B.C. Peace.
A judge is to consider the application for an injunction on September 21.
The WMFN has not yet filed a response and none of the allegations set out in the documents have been tested in court.
Mark Nielsen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince George Citizen