Railway faces civil suit

First Nation claims damages against Canadian National Railway

The Wet’suwet’en First Nation (WFN) east of Burns Lake filed a civil claim against the Canadian National Railway Company (CNR).

The lawsuit was filed on April 19, 2013 in the B.C. Supreme Court by Wet’suwet’en Chief Karen Ogen on behalf of all members of the WFN.

The WFN are seeking damages for a 2011 flood that damaged reserve property, including the band office and four houses, which the suit claims was the result of an inadequate culvert system installed by CNR.

“We have learned that the flooding was caused by Canadian National Railway’s embankment that passes through our reserve and an inadequate culvert system maintained by CN under the embankment than cannot handle the capacity of high spring run-off events,” said Ogen in a statement.

The band undertook its own clean-up and repair to damages caused by the 2011 flood. Council and band members remain concerned that the potential for another spring run off event has not been reduced since 2011.

“We have tried working with CNR to have them address this problem but have not had success to date,” Ogen said. “We are prepared to continue engaging with CN but, at this point, it became necessary to commence the court action to protect Wet’suwet’en right and to try to advance this matter to a more speedy resolution.”

Currently, WFN lawyers are waiting to receive CNR’s statement of defence. When contacted for comment,  a spokesperson for CNR said that the company does not comment on active litigation.