The Halalt First Nation has filed two lawsuits against Catalyst Paper Corp. in B.C. Supreme Court seeking damages for “toxic sludge” being pumped in the Chemainus River and for desecration of remains of the Halalt.
The Halalt First Nation is located at Chemainus in southeastern Vancouver Island of British Columbia, Canada. The Halalt have a historic relationship with the Chemainus River and native fish. Six first nations were recognized as part of the 1993 Hul’qumi’num Treaty Group with British Columbia and Canada.
In one claim, the Halalt accuse Catalyst’s Crofton Mill of contaminating the Chemainus River, causing erosion and loss of fish habitats. Halalt Chief Cul-Cee-Muztion says Catalyst has been moving 100 trucks a day through Halalt land without permission. The Chief is asking for more than $2 billion in damages.
Halalt First Nation’s director of operations Eli Enns recently spoke of the alleged environmental and cultural damage from the mill. Enns says the large sum is in response to the damage done to the land and the health of the Halalt First Nation.
“They’ve been fairly dramatic over the 60 years of operation. We’ve seen a huge decline in biological diversity in the system and water quality,” Enns said. “Probably as importantly, the mill was constructed in and around and on sacred burial sites of the Coast Salish peoples of Halalt.”
The second claim was filed by the Halalt, Sunvault Energy Inc. and Aboriginal Power Corp. CBC News writes that the second claim “seeks $100 million from Catalyst and an order from court to permanently stop Catalyst from building, owning or operating an anaerobic digester facility.”
According to this claim, Catalyst and the Halalt signed a confidentiality agreement about an “anaerobic digester facility” which would produce methane and save the Crofton Mill money. The Halalt claim that Catalyst broke the agreement by disclosing information to a competitor. That lawsuit seeks $100 million in damages for conspiracy, breach of confidentiality, and interference with contractual relations.
Catalyst has denied any wrongdoing in both claims.