16-year legal fight over Treaty 8 boundary concludes
Updated: Jan 23
Although Treaty 8 was first signed in 1899, encompassing much of northeast B.C., northwest Alberta and a small portion of the southern Northwest Territories, the exact location of its western boundary has been disputed since 1909. What is meant by the “central range of the Rocky Mountains” in the document is unclear.
Treaty 8 is an agreement between Queen Victoria and various First Nations of the Lesser Slave Lake area. The treaty was negotiated just south of present-day Grouard, Alberta. Treaty 8 is one of eleven numbered treaties made between the Government of Canada and First Nations
BC and three non-Treaty 8 First Nations with claims to the disputed territory have argued that the “central range of the Rocky Mountains” refers to the height of the Rocky Mountains, whereas Canada and the Treaty 8 First Nations, including West Moberly, Halfway River, Saulteau, Prophet River, and Doig River, conversely claim that the boundary is the Arctic-Pacific Divide.
Today, that dispute has been resolved in favour of the latter as the Supreme Court of Canada has denied leave to appeal a ruling on the western boundary of Treaty 8, confirming both the BC Court of Appeal's ruling last year and a prior BC Supreme Court ruling from 2017.