The Halalt First Nation wants the federal government to let the former E & N Railway corridor be returned to the Indigenous peoples it was taken from.
The Halalt have called on the federal government to reject any new spending on upgrades.
There is currently a court imposed deadline of March 14th for the government to begin investing in refurbishing the corridor, or allow a portion of the right-of-way to return to the Snaw-Naw-As First Nation near Nanaimo.
The First Nation says the E & N Railway was constructed through 14 First Nations reserves, and land was unlawfully taken from the Halalt reserve.
According to a news release, “the Railway has significant adverse impacts on Halalt, its lands, traditional practices, and economic development opportunities. Like other First Nations, the Railway has severed Halalt’s reserve, restricted access, caused social and economic losses, impacted available land for housing, and has undermined the cultural importance of and connection to the land.”
It adds that the raised corridor is “causing flooding on Halalt’s reserve, including extreme flooding every year since 2020,” which had an impact on the community and forced people from their homes.
The Halalt First Nation says the federal government has “fiduciary duties to Indigenous peoples” that requires the return of the land “when it is no longer being used as a Railway,” and notes that the Railway stopped operating in 2015 after decades of start-and-stop operations.
The Halalt Nation adds that it has not been adequately consulted about the restoration of the railway, despite an obligation on the part of the government to do so.