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Supreme Court decision disappoints Mikisew Cree First Nation


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Edmonton, AB – ?While the Mikisew Cree First Nation is disappointed with the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision today in ?Courtoreille v. Canada, their struggle to defend their treaty rights continues. Though today’s ruling means provincial and federal governments do not have the duty to consult about legislation threatening First Nation rights, Mikisew expects Canada to live up to the statements made in court that it would consult.

The decision ends Mikisew’s 2013 legal challenge to the previous federal government’s cuts to Canada’s environmental protection laws. Through Bills C-38 and C-45, the Harper government changed the ?Canadian Environmental Assessment Act,? the ?Fisheries Act?, the ?Species at Risk Act?, and the ?Navigable Waters Protection Act, d?drastically ?reducing federal oversight over fish and their habitat, navigable waters, and species at risk. The Bills also reduced the number of projects requiring federal environmental assessments and reduced the scope and depth of assessments for those projects.

“We are very disappointed that the court refused to advance reconciliation with this case,” said Mikisew’s legal counsel, Robert Janes. “The lack of consultation on these Bills led to bad laws, which resulted in failures like the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion Project and weaker environmental protection for all Canadians.”

The Harper Government passed these laws without consulting with Mikisew and other affected First Nations. At the Federal Court, Mikisew successfully argued that governments have a legally binding duty to consult First Nations when developing legislation that may impact the rights of First Nations. After the Federal Court of Appeal overturned the earlier ruling in 2016, Mikisew took its case to the Supreme Court of Canada, which has upheld the Federal Court of Appeal’s decision.

Mikisew Chief Archie Waquan said the ruling was a missed opportunity.

“Mikisew and other First Nations have valuable knowledge, laws and experience to contribute. We should be at the table with government not reacting after the fact through litigation.” This decision does not end Mikisew’s fight to protect its treaty rights. Chief Waquan noted the decision does not prevent the Crown from actually consulting. “The Crown has said they could and would consult and we will hold them to that promise.”



Mikisew Cree First Nation signed Treaty 8 in 1899. The Mikisew Cree continue to live a traditional lifestyle where, even today, most of their members in Fort Chipewyan rely on “country foods” such as fish, birds, and moose for a significant portion of their diet.

Athabasca Delta is the heart of their traditional lands, which range over much of the area where the Athabasca Oil Sands deposits have been found. Mikisew Cree First Nation shares this territory with four other First Nations that make up the Athabasca Tribal Council. 2900 people make up the Mikisew First Nation. Their governing body is made up of six Councillors and a Chief.

Since Treaty 8 was signed, many large scale industrial developments have affected Mikisew lands and waters, with the pace of development increasing significantly over the past decades. In 2005, Mikisew made history when it won a landmark case at the Supreme Court of Canada, which established that the Crown had to consult First Nations with historical treaty rights. Mikisew continues to employ a variety of strategies to seek protection of its rights and culture and to create opportunities for the nation. ?The Supreme Court ruling today is the result of a lengthy legal challenge by the Mikisew Cree which began in 2012.

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Lightning the latest to learn Dallas Stars’ defence can be downright offensive

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EDMONTON — The Tampa Bay Lightning are the latest team in the NHL playoffs to discover how much the Dallas Stars’ defence can be, well, downright offensive.

The Stars scored twice via defenders jumping into the play en route to a 4-1 win over the Lightning in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup final.

Dallas head coach Rick Bowness calls it a high-risk, high-reward strategy change born out of necessity in the modern game.

“We had to change the way we were playing with the puck,” Bowness told reporters Sunday on a Zoom call.

“Since we went to (return to play training) camp on July 11 that was the focus, and it continues to be the focus.

“In this league, you better have your fourth guy joining the rush or you’re not going to create enough chances off the rush, and you’re not going to spend enough time in the offensive zone.”

Dallas is three wins from the Stanley Cup in a playoff run powered by the offensive production of defenders like Miro Heiskanen, John Klingberg, and Jamie Oleksiak.

Heiskanen, 21, is the team’s top playoff point-getter, with five goals and 18 assists. Klingberg is tied for third (three goals, 17 points). Oleksiak has five goals in 22 playoff games after never getting more than five in any regular season in his eight-year NHL career.

Bowness said the strategy carries high risk if everyone isn’t in sync. The forwards have to gain the zone and dish the puck and fill the gap when the defence activates. If a player loses the puck or doesn’t rotate, the dominoes can fall on a disastrous odd-man attack headed at high speed the other way.

“Some nights it’s there, it works, and some nights it doesn’t. But they’re coming,” said Bowness.

“We’re after our D all the time to keep coming, and when that happens you’re putting a lot of onus on the puck carrier to make the right decisions.

“We’re here where we are because of the play of our defence and their chipping in offensively when they have to.”

With Dallas, the defence can play offence, but the offence can also hustle back and play defence, as evidenced in the third period of Game 1. Tampa Bay found its legs in the final frame and leveraged three Dallas minor penalties to blitz Anton Khudobin with 22 shots on net in 20 minutes.

Khudobin stopped them all, but credited teammates with clearing out rebounds and stopping pucks at the point of attack. The Stars allowed 35 shots on Khudobin in total but blocked another 26.

Dallas forward Jason Dickinson said they are succeeding in keeping shots to the perimeter and collapsing in on the net when pucks got through.

“We’re all on the same page. We don’t get running (around). When we’re in doubt we pack it in and we’ll expand from there and protect the house first,” said Dickinson.

“When it does open up, we have (Khudobin) there to shut the door for us.”

Khudobin, a journeyman backup in his 11th season, is having a storybook post-season, starting 19 games for an injured Ben Bishop and racking up 13 wins. Against the Vegas Golden Knights in the Western Conference final he allowed just eight goals on 161 shots for a .950 save percentage.

But Bowness said even keeping shots at a long distance is not good news.

“When we’re seeing that, we’re on our heels and that’s not how we play the game. We play the game on our toes going north,” he said.

The Lightning have yet to lose back-to-back games in this post-season, which has seen teams play in so-called isolated bubbles in Edmonton and Toronto to prevent contracting the coronavirus.

Forward Blake Coleman said they’ll be a different team in Game 2 Monday night at Rogers Place.

“Nobody is proud of the way we played, and we have a very proud group,” said Coleman.

“I expect every guy to look in the mirror and bounce back and play better than they did in Game 1.”

Looming over the series is the question of whether former two-time league scoring champion and Lightning team captain Steven Stamkos will return.

Stamkos has been out since March after undergoing surgery for a core muscle injury. He’s skating with the team in practice.

Will he play in Monday’s Game 2? Tampa head coach Jon Cooper was asked.

“I guess there’s always a chance, but as of now I don’t think so,” Cooper replied.

Bowness said they’re planning for him: “We’re expecting Steven to play at some point.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 20, 2020.

Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press

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RCMP in Alberta say man dead after he called 911 and told police he wanted shootout

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CALLING LAKE, Alta. — RCMP in Alberta say a man is dead after he’d called them multiple times, telling them he wanted a gunfight with police.

Police say officers in Athabasca, Alta. received multiple 911 calls from a 51-year-old man who asked police to come to his home in nearby Calling Lake.

They say during those calls he made comments that he wanted to engage RCMP members in a shootout.

Police allege the man exited the residence multiple times before ultimately confronting RCMP members on the street.

They say that confrontation led to an RCMP member discharging a service firearm.

The man was pronounced dead at the scene, and no other injuries were reported.

The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team, the province’s police oversight agency, says it has been directed to investigate the officer-involved shooting and will provide more details later.

RCMP, meanwhile, say they will continue to investigate the actions of the man and the events leading up to the confrontation.

The Canadian Press

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