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Alberta Court of Appeal overturns approval of oil sands project, siding with First Nation

According to the court, true reconciliation requires genuine respect of Indigenous treaty rights

Alberta Court of Appeal overturns approval of oil sands project, siding with First Nation

In a unanimous decision, the Alberta Court of Appeal has overturned the Alberta energy Regulator’s approval of the proposed Prosper Petroleum Rigel oil sands project.

The Fort McKay First Nation dubbed the decision to rescind the approval both “historic” and “momentous.”

“From the start, Fort McKay wanted only fair consideration of our 20-year struggle to protect Moose Lake as the last intact piece of wilderness in our traditional territory, even as it was encroached upon by oil sands development,” said the First Nation.

According to Fort McKay, the decision has important implications for the meaning of reconciliation. True reconciliation requires genuine respect and consideration of Indigenous treaty rights and the co-creation of partnerships with Indigenous communities, they said.

The First Nation further stated that the decision recognizes that Moose Lake is sacred, provides the clarity needed to support Fort McKay’s economic recovery and orders that future proceedings reconsider the project. They expect the provincial government to approve the Moose Lake Plan in the late spring and to make a commitment to jointly protect the lake.

In the meantime, Fort McKay is continuing its work “to manage the impact of the global collapse of oil prices on our businesses and ensure the health and safety of our community members through the COVID-19 pandemic response.”

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