'JUSTICE AT LAST' MUST BE 'JUSTICE FOR ALL'
OTTAWA, June 14 /CNW Telbec/ - Today, Clément Chartier, President of the
Métis National Council (MNC) called on the Harper Government to begin work
with the Métis Nation in order to develop and implement a Métis-specific
process to resolve outstanding Métis claims from Ontario westward.
President Chartier congratulated the Assembly of First Nations and First
Nation leadership for securing reforms in order to address the backlog of
First Nation treaty claims, but added, "it is misleading to leave Canadians
with the impression that the reforms announced this week will address the
claims of all Aboriginal peoples. Canada's Constitution recognizes and affirms
the rights of the Indian, Inuit and Métis peoples. The reforms announced this
week exclude the Métis. Canadians need to know that the 'Justice At Last'
announcement is not justice for all. It is only justice for some."
Currently, the Métis are excluded from the federal government's specific
and comprehensive claims processes, even though the Supreme Court of Canada,
in its 2003 landmark decision in R. v. Powley, recognized that the Métis are a
full fledged rights-bearing people whose rights are equal to those of other
Aboriginal peoples. The Métis Nation and its leadership have continued to call
upon the federal government to work with them in order to establish a Métis
claims policy that can begin to address outstanding Métis claims, outside of
President Chartier said, "I am calling on Prime Minister Harper and
Minister Prentice to work with us in order to develop a collaborative process
that can begin to address Métis claims. This would be timely because this year
will be an important year for the Métis Nation's rights agenda. We expect
several decisions on Métis rights from courts across western Canada. The most
significant of these decisions will be the historic Manitoba Métis Federation
v. Canada case, which we expect will be handed down in the next few months,"
said President Chartier.
At issue in the Manitoba Métis Federation v. Canada case is whether
Canada and Manitoba fulfilled their obligations to the Métis with respect to
the Manitoba Act's commitments to establishing a Métis land base, as set out
in sections 31 and 32 of the Manitoba Act. The Manitoba Métis Federation, on
behalf of the Manitoba Métis, is asking the court to make declarations that
Canada reached a treaty with the Métis in 1870 and that Canada and Manitoba
failed to fulfill their constitutional and treaty obligations to the Métis.
The case seeks a series of declarations that would then require Crown-Métis
negotiations in order to address compensation. For additional information on
the case visit the MMF's website at www.mmf.mb.ca.
"Without question, the MMF case will dramatically affect future
Crown-Métis relations and will most likely require some form of negotiations
between the Métis and Canada in order for the federal government to address
its outstanding obligations to the Métis people. I believe we have the
opportunity, if the Harper Government wants to take a proactive approach, to
develop an effective and results-oriented Métis claims process. Our preferred
approach has always been negotiation, versus litigation or confrontation. We
hope we can find a willing partner for negotiations with the Harper government
in order to achieve justice for all," concluded Chartier.
The MNC represents the Métis Nation in Canada at the national and
international level. The Métis Nation's homeland includes the three Prairie
provinces and extends into Ontario, British Columbia, the Northwest
Territories and the northern United States. There are approximately 350,000 -
400,000 Métis Nation citizens in Canada.
For further information:
For further information: on the judgment visit www.metisnation.org or
contact: Zoran Vidic, Senior Communications Officer, Métis National Council,
(613) 232-3216 ext. 124, Cell: (613) 295-9298