Sask. Métis Nation sues province, alleges repeated failure to consult on land rights

A statement of claim filed Tuesday says the province has failed to include the Métis in decisions concerning land use or activities like trapping and fishing. File / Global News

The Métis Nation – Saskatchewan (MN-S) has launched a lawsuit against the province, claiming the government is not doing enough to consult with the Métis over issues like land use, and commercial activities like trapping and fishing.

The statement of claim, filed Tuesday in Court of Queen’s Bench in Regina, also says the provincial policy on consultation, issued in 2010, doesn’t recognize Métis assertions of Aboriginal title to land and resources.

It says the result is that there is little or no consultation when Métis rights could be affected by provincial decisions on land use and resources.

It claims this is contributing to “community apprehension regarding how continued development will impact land claims,” and perpetuates a long history of the Métis being marginalized.

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Last year Métis in Saskatchewan and Alberta filed a massive land claim, seeking roughly 122,000 square kilometers in northwest Saskatchewan and northeast Alberta. The claim seeks redress for land lost to the Métis more than a century ago through the scrip system.

The lawsuit also points to what it says is a lack of consultation by the province when issuing mineral interests within land claimed by the Métis.

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The 2010 policy allows the government to determine if consultation should be triggered and how much is merited.

In a statement, MN-S President Glen McCallum said: “We call on the Province to reject the 2010 Policy, and to treat Métis with the respect and dignity they deserve as Canadians and as a rights-holding people.”

The MN-S is asking the Court of Queen’s Bench for Saskatchewan for several declarations, including that the 2010 policy is invalid and that the province’s continued reliance on it avoids duty to consult and is dishonourable.

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The MN-S noted how the 2018 Framework for Advancing Reconciliation between MN-S and Canada provides for, among other things, establishing processes to recognize and respect Métis rights and land claims.

The MN-S also wants the province to identify and disclose all matters on which the province should have given notice and consulted over the past 10 years, but didn’t as a result of the policy. The MN-S is seeking this via an order, as well as costs, damages and relief.

In an e-mailed response, the provincial government says it has not yet been served with the statement of claim, and is unaware of the specific allegations. But it said: “The Government of Saskatchewan values its relationship with the Métis Nation and is committed to working constructively with MNS and all our First Nations partners.”

The MN-S anticipates implications for First Nations in Saskatchewan as well, saying they also face obstacles to consultation due to the 2010 policy.

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