NEWS
07/11/2014 09:05 EDT | Updated 09/10/2014 05:59 EDT

Supreme Court to rule in Grassy Narrows logging rights case

The Supreme Court of Canada is set to release its decision later this morning in a treaty rights case that involves the province of Ontario and the Grassy Narrows First Nation, the signatory to Treaty 3 of 1873.

The case follows the province's decision to issue a logging licence on land Grassy Narrows considers its traditional territory. The First Nation worried about the adverse effects of clear-cutting on hunting, trapping and drinking water quality.

Canada's top court will make its decision public at 9:45 a.m. ET today.

The main issue to be decided by the court is whether provincial authority applies on these particular treaty lands. According to the Constitution of 1867, the federal government has exclusive authority over "Indians and lands reserved for Indians."

But Treaty 3 allowed for the "taking up" of lands for mining, towns and forestry among other things. Municipalities and natural resources are the responsibility of the provincial government under Canada's Constitution.

The court has been asked to clarify two other issues:

- Whether the province must justify using treaty land or whether it just has to consult and accommodate.

- How much a First Nation can ask for when trying to interpret its treaty rights in a modern context.