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Pine Creek First Nation sues Manitoba, logging company over Duck Mountain forest rights

Global News 2022-01-25 Elisha Dacey
Duck Mountain National Park near Baldy Mountain. © Wikipedia Duck Mountain National Park near Baldy Mountain.

A Manitoba First Nation says the province failed to consult them about logging licences in Duck Mountain and is seeking an order to prevent a logging company from continuing to harvest from the provincial park until the matter is resolved.

Minegoziibe Anishinabe (formerly Pine Creek First Nation) is suing Manitoba and Louisiana Pacific-Canada Ltd., alleging it has not been directly consulted about forest management rights for more than 15 years.

According to a notice of application filed in a Manitoba courtroom Wednesday, PCFN says the province has "failed to enforce critical conditions of Louisiana-Pacific's forestry authorizations," including logging in the area without a long-term forest management plan approved by the First Nation.

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"In December 2021, Manitoba issued a series of Decisions which enable Louisiana-Pacific to carry out further timber harvesting in areas which are critical to PCFN Rights and way of life. The Decisions were made without any prior notice to or consultation with PCFN," the lawsuit states.

The group says it's been a long-standing issue and its concerns are not being heard.

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One of those concerns includes the sharp decline of moose populations in the area since 1995,  prompting the province to ban moose hunting in the area since 2011.

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This is interfering with band members' way of life, says the lawsuit, pointing to human development as a large reason why moose populations are declining.

Currently, Duck Mountain Provincial Park is the "only provincial park in Manitoba in which commercial timber harvesting is authorized."

Read the Notice of Application here:

Minegoziibe Anishinabe is located 110 km north of Dauphin. Chief Derek Nepinak and council filed the lawsuit on behalf of 4,000 Anishinaabeg members.

The first Forest Management Plan for the area was authorized in 1996, according to the court documents, and was scheduled to be revisited after 10 years had elapsed.

Instead, according to the lawsuit Louisiana-Pacific submitted a plan for an additional 20 years, which was not approved by the province.

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However, in 2012, the Lieutenant Governor authorized the Manitoba conservation minister to simply extend the term of the original contract, the lawsuit says.

This happened several more times, the last time at the end of 2021, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit asks for the court to quash the extensions and not allow Louisiana-Pacific to continue logging without consulting with the First Nation directly.

In a statement, LP Building Solutions says it is "aware that Pine Creek First Nation is pursuing a legal challenge against the Government of Manitoba and LP Canada respecting forest management operations within the Duck Mountain Provincial Forest Area. Although we cannot comment on the lawsuit, LP remains committed to engaging with Indigenous Nations, including Pine Creek, regarding our sustainable forest management operations in Manitoba."

The case will first go before a judge on Feb. 8, 2022.

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