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September 19, 2013
OTTAWA – The Supreme Court of Canada has agreed to hear a long-running dispute over clear cutting on a First Nation’s traditional territory in northwestern Ontario.
The Grassy Narrows First Nation has challenged Ontario’s right to permit industrial logging on its traditional lands, saying it infringed on their hunting and trapping rights under a treaty they signed in 1873.
It turned to Canada’s highest court after the Ontario Court of Appeal ruled earlier this year that the province doesn’t need the federal government’s approval to “take up” the lands — a decision that overturned a lower court ruling.
Observers said the lower court ruling put the validity of forestry and mining licences in jeopardy, and at least one mining company had hailed March’s appeal court decision as a positive one for them.
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