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McLeod Lake Indian Band drops out of Site C lawsuit

A First Nation has dropped out of a lawsuit seeking to stop the Site C dam.

A First Nation has dropped out of a lawsuit seeking to stop the Site C dam.

A provincial judge allowed McLeod Lake Indian Band to “cease to be a party” to a lawsuit involving itself, Prophet River First Nation and West Moberly First Nations on July 2.

One week earlier, a Federal judge also granted McLeod Lake's departure from a similar Site C lawsuit that also involves Prophet River, West Moberly and Doig River First Nations.

The move by McLeod Lake is not expected to impact the status of the lawsuits.

Not long after the province announced it planned to go ahead with the construction of the Site C dam, a number of First Nations announced plans to fight the $8.8 billion project in provincial and federal courtrooms.

The provincial lawsuit asks the court to quash or set aside the decision of the provincial and federal governments to issue an environmental assessment certificate for Site C.

A judge heard initial arguments in the case April 23 to May 6.

“After the conclusion of the hearing, on May 21, 2015, McLeod Lake agreed with BC Hydro to withdraw from, and discontinue all of its claims in, this proceeding,” according to a notice from McLeod Lake.

Soon afterwards, McLeod Lake dropped Rana Law Firm and Devin Gailus Westaway Law Corporation — the firm representing all three of the First Nations — and hired lawyer Albert Peeling.

The notice does not say why McLeod Lake Indian Band left the lawsuit.

The departure does not mean that Prophet River and West Moberly will stop their lawsuit.

“McLeod Lake consents to Devin Gailus Westaway Law Corporation and Rana Law continuing to act for Prophet River and West Moberly in this proceeding,” the documents state.

Dave Conway, Hydro’s spokesman for Site C, said he could not comment on McLeod Lake’s departure.

Questions sent to Rana Law, Peeling, Devin Gailus, the McLeod Lake Indian Band office, and the offices of the other First Nations involved in the lawsuit were not returned as of press time.

A separate lawsuit is also underway involving the Athabasca Chipewyan and Mikisew Cree First Nations in Alberta.