Pasqua First Nation takes Saskatchewan to Court Over Major Water Drainage Project

December 19, 2017

Pasqua First Nation is bringing the Saskatchewan Minister of the Environment, the Province of Saskatchewan, and Quill Lakes Watershed Association No. 14 to court over a proposed water diversion project that could have a major impact on Pasqua’s constitutionally-protected rights.

Pasqua’s judicial review application filed in the Saskatchewan Court of Queen’s Bench aims to quash a decision by the Minister exempting a water drainage diversion project proposed by the Quill Lakes Watershed Association No. 14 from an Environmental Impact Assessment.  

By connecting two previously unconnected water systems with a 25-km drainage diversion channel, the project will likely cause water high in salinity and potential pollutants to migrate from the Kutawagan and Pel Lakes into Last Mountain Lake and the Qu’Appelle River System. This will have a direct and physical impact on Pasqua, with its reserve located downstream from the project, and its fishing station located along the shoreline of Last Mountain Lake.

The Minister and Quill Lakes Watershed Association No. 14 ignored Pasqua’s requests for consultation, thereby denying Pasqua the opportunity to properly voice its concerns about the project’s potential impact on its constitutionally-protected aboriginal and treaty rights. The Minister also failed to consider any of the First Nation’s extensive traditional and environmental knowledge of the area and its watersheds.

By deeming the project not to be a “development” under section 2(d) of the Environmental Assessment Act, the Minister determined the project would not be subject to an Environmental Impact Assessment. The Minister’s decision, dated September 8, 2017, was not brought to the attention of Pasqua until it was made public in a CBC article in late October 2017.

Pasqua seeks an order quashing the decision, a declaration that the Minister failed to fulfil the Crown’s duty to consult and accommodate the First Nation, an injunction stopping the project from proceeding, and an order requiring the project undergo an Environmental Impact Assessment before approval. 

All questions and inquires may be directed to Ryan Lake at  or 403-266-1201 ext 236.

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