OTTAWA, Aug. 18, 2015 /CNW Telbec/ - National Chief Perry Bellegarde today congratulated Treaty One First Nations on winning an important Treaty land entitlement case that successfully challenged the federal decision to transfer the Kapyong Barracks (located in Winnipeg, Manitoba) to the Canada Lands Company.
On Friday August 14, 2015, the Federal Court of Appeal agreed the federal government has failed to meet its duty to consult with Treaty One First Nations. The Court of Appeal also made a number of observations about how the Crown should conduct itself in discussions with First Nations on their preferences for meeting the Crown's long neglected treaty land entitlement obligations. The Court said that Treaty land entitlement agreements must be seen in their proper historical context; and Canada must show a genuine, bona fide desire, intention and commitment "to engage in a process to rectify Canada's broken promise in Treaty No. 1."
National Chief Bellegarde said, "This decision is clear direction to the Crown that it cannot ignore or minimize its constitutional obligations to Treaty First Nations that are rooted in the Royal Proclamation of 1763, and this includes federal decisions involving disposition of 'federal Crown lands'. When the Crown does not meet its Treaty land entitlement promises and its duty to consult, the honour of the Crown is placed in question and sacred Treaty promises remain unfulfilled."
He noted that the Federal Court of Appeal confirmed that the duty to consult in this context requires more than simply providing notice and information to First Nations. The Crown is also required to engage in meaningful dialogue and explain its proposed course of action in response to First Nations concerns and the reasons for its response. He went on to say "The Federal Court of Appeal's decision demonstrates the federal Crown is required to manage its duty to consult obligations fully and honourably as well as acting expeditiously on its treaty land entitlement obligations."
Long Plain First Nation Chief Dennis Meeches added, "The Treaty 1 First Nations are very pleased with the decision of the Federal Court of Appeal and now look forward to working on a Treaty 1 Common Reserve. We would hope that Canada will accept the decision of the court and begin the work of reconciliation and partnership with Treaty 1 for the benefit of all Canadians"
In January 2008, seven First Nations of Treaty One (Brokenhead, Peguis, Roseau River, Sagkeeng, Long Plain, Sandy Bay and Swan Lake) filed an application to have the federal court review Ottawa's 2005 decision to transfer the vacant Kapyong Barracks land to the Canada Lands Company, which was to market it for redevelopment.
Treaty One was entered into in 1871 and Crown promises respecting land entitlements remain outstanding. Canada informed the First Nations in this case that the Kapyong Barracks lands were not considered eligible for meeting these obligations (because of a federal policy decision). The federal court ruled in the First Nations' favor in 2009 and 2012, but the federal government appealed both the decisions and lost.
The Assembly of First Nation is the national organization representing First Nation citizens in Canada. Follow #AFN on Twitter @AFN_Comms, @AFN_Updates.
SOURCE Assembly of First Nations
For further information: Alain Garon AFN Bilingual Communications Officer 613-241-6789, ext 382; 613-292-0857 or [email protected]