AFN Chief Calls for Justice, Dialogue in Federal Resource Revenue Class Action Suit

AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde

OTTAWA,/CNW/ – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde expressed his support for Poundmaker Cree Nation (SK) and Onion Lake Cree Nation (SK), in initiating a class action lawsuit in federal court claiming a breach of fiduciary duty on the part of the Indian Oil and Gas Canada (IOGC) in its management of First Nations’ oil and gas resource revenues.

“Today, we commend the leadership of Poundmaker Cree Nation and Onion Lake Cree Nation and stand with all impacted First Nations as they strive to recover lost resource revenues and ensure the Crown upholds its fiduciary duties with respect to First Nations oil and gas resources, ” said National Chief Bellegarde on Feb. 9.

“Based on our natural resource wealth, First Nations should be among the wealthiest in Canada.  But federal mismanagement and neglect of its fiduciary duties has resulted in lost revenue for First Nations, perpetuating a cycle of poverty. I encourage the Crown to begin negotiations in good faith with all parties involved, to work towards a reconciliation that honours First Nations title and rights.”

On February 8, 2016, the Poundmaker Cree Nation and the Onion Lake Cree Nation, on behalf of certain oil and gas producing First Nations, sued the Government of Canada over its mismanagement of oil and gas rights on designated Reserve lands. They allege a continuing breach of fiduciary duty and negligence on the part of the federal government and also request an accounting. They estimate the losses suffered to date to be $3 billion.

National Chief Bellegarde added: “One of the biggest reasons why there is such a gap between First Nations and other Canadians is the historic mismanagement of First Nations resources.  This has drained billions of dollars from First Nations economies.  We call on the Federal Government to move beyond the injustices of the past and seize the opportunity to ensure First Nations benefit fairly from the wealth of their territories.”

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