The Huron Wendat Nation (HWN) Legal Challenge to the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) review of the Enbridge Gas Distribution Inc. GTA Gas Project and the 407 East Corridor Project

WENDAKE, QC, May 23, 2014 /CNW Telbec/ - The Huron Wendat Nation is a proactive Nation, based in Wendake, Québec. The Nation had deep archaeological and historical ties to Southern Ontario. Canadians are discovering the rich history of the Huron Wendat Nation through this year's Canada Reads' winning book, The Orenda by Joseph Boyden. For many years, archaeologists have been stunned and thrilled by the number, the size and complexity of the Huron Wendat sites discovered and too many times excavated without the knowledge of the Huron Wendat Nation to make room for development projects.

There are over 400 identified archaeological Huron Wendat sites in Southern Ontario alone. The Huron Wendat Nation has significant Aboriginal rights and title in Southern Ontario.

About the Case

The Huron Wendat Nation is preparing legal action to ensure that the Ontario and Federal Crown fulfill their constitutional obligations to the Nation with respect to its energy and infrastructure projects in the province. Should the court agree, two major project developers may have to restart the approval process from the beginning to ensure that all assessments are conducted in a way that respects and fulfills the Huron Wendat Nation's constitutionally protected Aboriginal and treaty rights as well as their historical territorial title.

Despite 10 years of solid legal precedents and 191 aboriginal court victories (according to expert lawyer Bill Gallagher), the Huron Wendat Nation has never been consulted to date in a transparent and meaningful process by the major project proponents active on its traditional territories which includes the GTA area.

At present, there are two new projects on the Huron Wendat Nation's traditional territories in the GTA area that have completely failed the duty to consult process, as provided by the Supreme Court of Canada. The first project is Enbridge's $687M Expansion of its gas pipeline project set for the Greater Toronto Area.

The second project under development involves the extension of the existing tolled 407 Highway, east of the existing corridor all the way to highway 35 / 115. This project is being undertaken under the Public Private Partnership (PPP) promoted by Ontario's Liberal government.

The duty to consult process is a legal obligation imposed on the Crown and the project proponents. When projects impact Aboriginal and treaty rights and our title to our traditional territory, the project proponent must exchange all information pertaining to the development and implementation of the project such as environmental, archaeological, safety, design, economics and commercial information so that aboriginal groups can be engaged and participate in the decision making process. Both Enbridge and the Ministry of Transportation have recognized the significance of these important Huron Wendat Nation archaeological, spiritual and cultural sites. Regardless of the impact on these sites, both Enbridge and MTO have decided to impact these sites without any agreement regarding mitigation or compensation.

"The Huron Wendat Nation is a sovereign Nation of diplomats, entrepreneurs, and geopoliticians. Our historical aboriginal territorial and treaty rights are intact and we continue to exercise them as we have done in the past. We historically always traded and promoted exchange of goods between the various aboriginal nations and later, with the Europeans in Northeastern America" said Huron Wendat Nation's Grand Chief Konrad Sioui.

"We are not against commercial development. We are ready to talk business, and we are ready to co-manage these projects in an environmentally, commercially and culturally sustainable manner. We want to create sustainable partnerships for the whole life of the project" added Chief Line Gros-Louis, Chief responsible for the Ontario portfolio on behalf of the Huron Wendat Nation.

Both these projects are significant because they are located in an urban setting and will irreparably harm archaeological and cultural sites, such as complex Huron Wendat villages dating back to 1550s. Suzanne Leclair, the Ontario lawyer for the Huron Wendat Nation states: "Most mining developers in northern Ontario are well familiar with the duty to consult procedures but somehow, project developers appear to forget the duty to consult process also applies in southern Ontario".

 

SOURCE COUNCIL OF THE HURON-WENDAT NATION

For further information: To learn more about this legal action, please contact: Susanne Leclair, Lawyer, Ottawa 1-613-454-5752, Montreal 1-514-758-0895