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Taku River Tlingit First Nation v British Columbia (Project Assessment Director) [2004] 3 SCR 550

Category: Case Law
Date: 18 November 2004
Sub Category:Case Law
State/Country:British Columbia, Canada
Summary Information:
Decided by McLachlin CJ and Major, Bastarache, Binnie, LeBel, Deschamps and Fish JJ in the Supreme Court of Canada.

This case first arose when the government of British Columbia forced through an approval of the Tulsequah Chief mine and road project, to which the Taku River Tlingit First Nation (TRTFN) objected. The TRTFN argued that there had been insufficient consultation about the project's potential impact on the community and the surrounding environment.

The Crown has a duty to consult with Aboriginal communities where 'a Crown actor has knowledge, real or constructive, of the potential existence of the Aboriginal right or title and contemplates conduct that might adversely affect it' (headnote of Taku River Tlingit First Nation v. British Columbia (Project Assessment Director), [2004] 3 S.C.R. 550).

The TRTFN brought a petition for judicial review to quash the decision to grant project approval and won at first instance, and in an appeal brought by BC to the British Columbia Court of Appeal. BC appealed again to the Supreme Court of Canada.

The Supreme Court of Canada upheld BC's appeal, finding that the Project Committee established under the BC Environmental Assessment Act was sufficient to accommodate the concerns of the TRTFN. It was found that BC had fulfilled their duty to consult with potential Aboriginal claimants.
However the Court strongly rejected BC's argument that there existed no duty to consult with Aboriginal nations prior to proof of an Aboriginal claim.

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