Our way of life had lasted sustainably for thousands of years. We were self reliant and independent.
Our people hold irreplaceable knowledge and skills that have been passed down generation to generation. It is a way of life that had lasted sustainably for thousands of years. Our people traveled extensively through our traditional land use area hunting, fishing, trapping and gathering. We worked hard not only to survive but to trade our furs and crafts. We fully participated in the traditional economy of the past two hundred years. We were self reliant and independent.
As a younger generation, we have both the fortune and misfortune of standing with a foot in two worlds: the world of our ancestors and the world of our children. As a community, we are blessed with leadership that has vision and a willingness to not only honor the past but look ahead. Our Elders and our leadership know and understand that sharing our traditional knowledge is our gift and our obligation.
Our vision statement reflects our central value of preservation of the land. We depend on the land; it sustains us physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. The water, air, plants, animals, and minerals all form part of our culture. We need herbs for medicines, places for ceremonies, animals for meat and hide, and clean water and air to sustain ourselves.
AWN Land Claim:
On September 2, 2004, the Aseniwuche Winewak Nation asserted its Aboriginal rights and claimed land and compensation in a Statement of Claim against Canada and Alberta. The statement lists a claim for Aboriginal Title; compensation for mines, minerals and natural resources within our Traditional Lands that were sold by Canada and Alberta. The claim states that Canada’s failure to provide the Aseniwuche Winewak Nation with similar benefits and opportunities as provided to other aboriginal groups is discriminatory. The forced relocation out of Jasper, the impact of the Town of Grande Cache, and our unique genealogy are of particular interest to the claim.
In December of 2005, Canada and Alberta filed their Statements of Defense. Both the Aseniwuche Winewak Nation and Canada/Alberta must have their lists of evidential documents ready by May 2006 and production of documents must be finished by December 2007. Researchers for the Aseniwuche Winewak Nation will review Canada and Alberta’s documents and submit their own. They will also prepare expert reports for court. Trial is expected to take place sometime after 2007.
Update - April 2015
On March 11, 2015, Robert Janes and Clare Truesdale attended court in Edmonton to defend against a motion brought forward by Alberta and Canada to dismiss our claim under Alberta Court Rule 4.33. Rule 4.33 requires people who start a lawsuit (AWN) to make significant advances in their case on a regular basis and if nothing significant happens in three years, the defendant (Alberta/Canada) can ask the judge to dismiss the case.
It is a little hard to explain in a few words but simply speaking Mr. Janes and Ms. Truesdale made submissions on our behalf and argued that AWN was prevented from making significant advances in our claim case because of issues that had to resolved by a judge regarding a new lawyer that joined AWN’s previous law firm in the time period 2011—2013. Mr. Janes argued that resolving the issue with the new lawyer was a significant advance in our case. It was reported the judge appeared receptive to this argument and the hearing went well overall. The judge chose to reserve his decision. This means he needed more time to carefully consider each side’s arguments and make his decision. The judge acknowledged the significant rights and financial sums at stake in our court case. Based on the judge’s comments during the hearing, we expect a decision before summer.
AWN and Canada to Start Negotiations
AWN’s first claim was dismissed from court in July 2016 when we lost the appeal that Canada and Alberta brought forward. They said we had broken a court rule by not moving our claim forward enough in the last three years. We started a new claim on March 24, 2017, which contains some of the same claims, but is more focused. Canada and Alberta have not filed any statements of defence against our claim. Canada has said that they want to negotiate a settlement with AWN and put the claim in abeyance. We are still waiting to hear from Alberta whether they will agree to the abeyance.
Q & A
Q: What is an abeyance?
A: An abeyance is an agreement between the parties to a court case to “pause” the court case for a certain length of time. It does not give up the claim or affect your legal rights. Once the “pause” is over the claim can continue.
Q: What will be discussed in the negotiations with Canada?
A: We don’t know exactly what will be discussed yet, but Canada has said it wants to talk about section 35 rights (Aboriginal or treaty rights) and AWN’s other interests.
Q: When will the negotiations start?
A: We are not sure. We hope to have our first meeting with Canada in September 2017.