MEDIA RELEASE: Supreme Court of Canada denies leave for Squamish Nation to proceed with Federal Court of Appeal challenge to consider impacts of Trans Mountain Expansion Project on endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales

March 5, 2020, Squamish Territory (North Vancouver, BC) – The Squamish Nation is extremely disappointed with today’s decision by the Supreme Court of Canada to deny leave for the Squamish Nation to proceed with an appeal of the Federal Court of Appeal’s decision to refuse to consider whether the federal government complied with its obligations to protect the endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales from the impacts of the Trans Mountain Expansion Project.

“The stakes are at their highest for our Nation and our relationship to this iconic group of orcas – yew yews in the Squamish language. The National Energy Board recognized that the Southern Residents are at a critical state and the Project would visit significant adverse effects upon them through acoustic disturbance, vessel strikes, oil spills and cumulative effects. The courts have failed to ensure that Canada complies with its obligations to protect this critically endangered species before the Project goes ahead,” said Khelsilem, Squamish Nation Councillor and Spokesperson.

In November 2019, the Squamish Nation filed an application with the Supreme Court of Canada for leave to appeal a decision of a single judge of the Federal Court of Appeal (FCA) that narrowed the grounds on which the Nation could challenge the re-approval of the Trans Mountain Expansion Project. The FCA judge limited Squamish’s judicial review to whether Canada fixed the flaws in Canada’s consultation on the Project found by the FCA in their 2018 decision, denying Squamish the ability to challenge the Project approval on the basis of the failure to comply with environmental legislation, including the obligations under the Species at Risk Act to protect the Southern Resident Killer Whale. Squamish sought leave to appeal because of the importance of this iconic group of orcas (of which only 73 remain) to the Nation.

The Trans Mountain Expansion Project poses a serious threat to Squamish’s home in Burrard Inlet, to the community’s continued reliance on the marine environment and to the survival of the Southern Resident Killer Whale – a species of cultural significance to Squamish that is recognized to be at a critical state.

The Squamish Nation remains deeply committed to ensuring that Canada respects and protects the rights of the Nation, including with respect to species of importance to the Nation, and fulfills its constitutional obligations to the Nation.

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Media contact:
Lauren Hutchison
Senior Communications Officer, Squamish Nation
604-363-4055 or lauren_hutchison@squamish.net

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