First Nations Concerned About Offshore Oil and Gas Development

The Environmental Law Clinic has provided both legal representation and other legal services to the BC Aboriginal Fisheries Commission on the issue of Offshore Oil and Gas Development. During the Environmental Assessment hearings considering whether Canada should lift the moratorium on offshore oil and gas development, student Deven Singhal and Legal Director Calvin Sandborn worked with First Nations fishing groups. Among other things, they provided the Aboriginal Fisheries Commission with a legal critique of the procedural flaws in the federal process.

This critique was widely distributed and published in First Nations communities, and was cited by many First Nations in their presentations to the hearings.

Deven Singhal went on to make submissions to the Assessment hearings, prompting Aboriginal Fisheries Commission staffer Susan Anderson-Behn to comment: He not only focused on the legal issues, but paid attention to the political context and the dynamics of the public hearing. We liked the fact that he took initiative in making his own oral presentation to the Commission. He was able to take information he got and do two or three things with it. He was very persevering. He gathered a lot of contextual information. He established a good relationship with the Aboriginal Fisheries Commission, and the Commission really appreciated him coming to their meetings and events.

Graduating law student Simon Owen completed comprehensive research for an Association of First Nations on potential legal challenges to the resumption of offshore oil and gas exploration

“As a follow-up to its work at the offshore oil hearings, ELC student Simon Owen worked for the Aboriginal Fisheries Commission, researching potential court challenges that could be mounted if government decides to lift the moratorium. Working tirelessly to comb through historic documents and generations of statutes, Simon developed an important potential legal case against development.” Simon Owen

A former senior Deputy Minister who reviewed Simon’s brief stated that in his career of reviewing hundreds of briefing notes, that Simon’s briefing note was as fine as any he had ever reviewed.