Supreme Court to rule on historic Indigenous rights case on Wednesday July 26

Loujain Kurdi

Supreme Court to rule on historic Indigenous rights case on Wednesday July 26

20 July 2017 (OTTAWA) — Canada’s Supreme Court will deliver its ruling on the landmark Indigenous rights case Hamlet of Clyde River et al. v. Petroleum Geo-Services Inc. (PGS) et. al. next Wednesday, deciding whether or not it will allow a highly controversial oil exploration project in the Canadian Arctic to proceed against Inuit opposition.

“After three years of struggle to be heard, we’re ready for this ruling,” said Jerry Natanine, the indefatigable former mayor and community leader at the helm of Clyde River’s appeal. “For years now, my community has lived with the threat of seismic blasting hanging over our heads — a looming danger to our children’s food security and the balance of the Arctic ecosystem we depend on for our way of life.”

Seismic blasting is a dangerous form of oil exploration involving firing loud, underwater explosions to map the seabed for oil deposits. The marine life upon which the community has traditionally depended on for food security can be harmed, even killed, by the deafening noise of the blasts. Clyde River’s case calls on the Supreme Court to stop a 5-year seismic blasting project approved by the National Energy Board, citing the government’s failure to meaningfully consult with impacted communities.

“It’s more than time Inuit were full partners in decisions that impact our lands and waters. Our voices should determine the economic future of our people, one in harmony with our way of life. Inuit rights to free, prior and informed consent should not be secondary to the whims of oil companies. This is the justice we hope the Supreme Court will give us next week,” added Natanine.

Judgement on Clyde River’s case will be announced on the same day as another landmark case, Chippewas of the Thames First Nation v. Enbridge Pipelines Inc. et. al., which was heard together with the Clyde River case at the Supreme Court of Canada last November.

“The cases of Clyde River and the Chippewas of the Thames get at the heart of the dilemma Canada’s federal government faces: its desire to move reconciliation forward while pushing controversial oil projects through Indigenous lands. The Court’s ruling will impact every major energy project in the country,” said Nader Hasan, legal counsel for Clyde River.

The Court’s judgement will come after nearly 7 months of deliberation. If the Court rules in favour of Clyde River, it would not only cancel the seismic blasting project approved by the National Energy Board, but it could clarify and strengthen Indigenous rights, giving Indigenous Peoples across Canada more voice and power on decisions related to energy and development projects that impact their lands, waters and communities. This could mean significant changes to the way that such projects, including tar sands pipelines, are approved.

Mr. Natanine and Mr. Hasan will be speaking to media on Wednesday July 26 on Parliament Hill in the Charles Lynch Room (130-S) in Centre Block. Members of the media are invited to attend and ask questions.

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Clyde River's struggle for justice has been supported by a network of Canadian organizations and activists, the Clyde River Solidarity Network, whose members include Amnesty International Canada, Council of Canadians, Greenpeace Canada, Idle No More, and Mining Injustice Solidarity Network.


For further information:

Legal backgrounder on the case available here.

Details from the Supreme Court of Canada here.

Media briefing on the impact of seismic blasting on marine life here.


For media related inquiries, please contact:

(For information and to arrange interviews) Loujain Kurdi, Communications Officer on behalf of the community, 514-577-6657,

(For press conference details) Philippa Duchastel de Montrouge, Communications Officer on behalf of the community, 514-929-8227,