The B.C. Supreme Court allowed an application by two Indian bands and a non-profit society representing the interests of an Aboriginal group to intervene in this proceeding.

The underlying proceeding involves a dispute over the western boundary of Treaty 8. The plaintiffs and Canada allege that the western boundary is the Arctic/Pacific watershed. British Columbia, supported by the Kaska Dena Council, takes the position that the western boundary is considerably to the east, along the central range of the Rocky Mountains.

The Tsay Keh Dene First Nation, Takla Lake First Nation, and the Tahltan Central Council (a non-profit society representing people of Tahltan ancestry) sought to intervene in the proceeding. None of them had adhered to Treaty 8. The two Bands are at stage 4 of the treaty process. They allege that their aboriginal rights would be directly affected by the outcome of this proceeding. If the Court determines that the western boundary of Treaty 8 is the Rocky Mountains, then the plaintiffs and other Treaty 8 signatories would have difficulty asserting rights west of that boundary.

The Court accepted that the applicants satisfied the test for the granting of intervenor status. They have a direct interest in the matter. Johnston J. noted that he would not have allowed the application on the basis of the “public interest” criterion for intervenor status. The applicants would not have a perspective or point of view that would assist the court.

The Court granted intervenor status on certain conditions. The applicants were entitled to receive copies of pleadings, the submissions of the parties, and transcripts. They could make closing submissions at the trial, as long as such submissions do not repeat or duplicate the submissions of a party. They were not entitled to make opening statements. They would also remain liable for costs.

Scott Kerwin, Partner
Aboriginal Law
BLG, Vancouver


Scott Kerwin


Aboriginal Law