First Nations Sue Canada for Treaty Breach and Dishonourable Deal with Purdue


PRINCE ALBERT, SASKATCHEWAN – Lac La Ronge Indian Band and Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation, acting on behalf of Treaty 6 First Nations, have launched a groundbreaking lawsuit against the Government of Canada, alleging breaches of Treaty 6 and the honour of the Crown.  Dowbload a copy here.

The lawsuit centres on two pivotal provisions within Treaty 6 – the “pestilence” and “medicine chest” clauses – which mandate Canada to provide support and medical care to First Nations. According to the lawsuit, Canada’s ongoing failure to effectively assist First Nations in combating the opioid epidemic is in breach of these provisions. 

The lawsuit also alleges that Canada breached the honour of the Crown by making a deal with Purdue Canada, giving Canada priority access to Purdue Canada’s remaining assets. The deal was made after Purdue Canada’s assets had been pledged to Purdue Pharma’s US bankruptcy plan. Canada thus made this deal knowing it would compromise First Nations’ ability to collect on their own claims against Purdue Canada.

The legality of the US bankruptcy plan, which is scheduled to be determined by the United States Supreme Court in December, is also being opposed by First Nations and Canadian municipalities who stand to lose out on Canada’s backdoor deal. 

To remedy these breaches, First Nations request that Canada consult with them and fund an opioid abatement plan that covers emergency assistance, treatment programs, family and social services, community outreach, addiction support, and incorporates traditional Indigenous healing practices.

This lawsuit underscores the urgent need for Canada to address the challenges faced by Indigenous communities and highlights the collective determination of Treaty 6 First Nations to seek redress for the harm caused by the opioid epidemic.

Tammy Cook-Searson, Chief of Lac La Ronge Indian Band, commented: “Our communities have suffered immeasurable loss due to the opioid epidemic. This lawsuit is a crucial step towards addressing the harm caused and ensuring a brighter future for our people.”

Karen Bird, Chief of Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation, added: “We stand united in our pursuit of justice and respect for our Treaty rights. It is essential that the Government of Canada fulfills its commitments to our communities, ensuring our people’s health and safety.”


For further details, press inquiries, and comments:

Casey R. Churko, Partner at Napoli Shkolnik Canada

Phone: 306-540-2284



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