Métis win important Supreme Court land claim rulingTuesday, March 12, 2013 by: SooToday.com Staff
ONTARIO COALITION OF ABORIGINAL PEOPLE
WABIGOON, ON (March 8, 2013) - Today, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that “… Métis are entitled to a declaration that the federal Crown failed to act with diligence in implementing the land grant provision set out in s. 31 of the Manitoba Act, in accordance with the honour of the Crown.”
This historic ruling marks the end of a 32-year legal odyssey for the Manitoba Métis Federation (MMF) in its struggles with the governments of Canada and Manitoba.
“I congratulate David Chartrand and the MMF in their victory and dogged pursuit of justice,” said Brad Maggrah, president of the Ontario Coalition of Aboriginal People.
Under s. 31 of the Manitoba Act, 1870, a solemn constitutional obligation had been made to the “half-breed residents” of Manitoba, while in the French version it had been made to “des Métis residents”:
"And whereas, it is expedient, towards the extinguishment of the Indian Title to the lands in the Province, to appropriate a portion of such ungranted lands, to the extent of one million four hundred thousand acres thereof, for the benefit of the families of the half-breed residents, it is hereby enacted, that, under regulations to be from time to time made by the Governor General in such parts of the Province as he may deem expedient, to the extent aforesaid, and divide the same among the children of the half-breed heads of families residing in the Province at the time of the said transfer to Canada, and the same shall be granted to the said children respectively, in such mode and on such conditions as to settlement and otherwise, as the Governor General in Council may from time to time determine."
The Supreme Court found that the Crown had failed to act diligently to achieve the purposes of s. 31.
For a period of 10 years, the Crown had made repeated mistakes in the land allotment provisions and with the issuance of scrip.
In 1994, the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples had called the implementation of the Manitoba Act, “a national disgrace” and called for political negotiation on a nation-to-nation basis to resolve Métis issues.
“At this point, the federal government is reviewing the ruling by the Supreme Court and undoubtedly they will be looking at the costs of compensation. It has been 143 years since the Manitoba Act was passed, and the time has come for resolution of this historical injustice,” said Maggrah.
OCAP is a member of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, which has represented the rights and interests of off-reserve status and non-status Indians and Métis since 1971.