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Battle over sale of Saskatchewan Crown lands going to trial: FSIN

The Saskatchewan Treaty Land Entitlement Framework Agreement was signed in 1992 and provided a way for First Nations to buy Crown land. Devin Sauer / Global News

The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations says it welcomes the Federal Court’s decision to dismiss a provincial challenge in the ongoing battle over the Saskatchewan government’s sale of Crown lands.

The Federal Court dismissed the province’s request for summary judgement in the case of Witchekan Lake First Nation v. Saskatchewan on Oct. 15 and ordered the province to pay Witchekan Lake First Nation’s costs.

Now, FSIN says the issue will go to trial.

“By selling off Crown lands, the province is making it very difficult for First Nations to fulfil their Treaty Land Entitlement (TLE) and specific claim settlement agreements, and we have less lands on which to exercise our constitutionally protected inherent and treaty rights,” said Chief Anne Thomas of Witchekan Lake First Nation.

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“We have tried to reason with the province, but have met roadblock after roadblock. Going to court is not our preferred option, but it has been forced on us.”

Witchekan Lake First Nation first filed a statement of claim in Federal Court in October of 2019, arguing that the province of Saskatchewan had breached the terms of the Saskatchewan TLE Framework Agreement by selling Crown lands without providing proper notice or first right of refusal.

The province had been selling Crown land through online auctions since 2017 and through other various land sales since 2008.

In a statement to Global News, the Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture said, in part:

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“The Government of Saskatchewan is committed to resolving outstanding Treaty Land Entitlement claims in Saskatchewan. To date, Saskatchewan has transferred more acres to reserve status under our Treaty Land Entitlement Agreements than any other province in Canada…. Land included in any sale or lease process is first confirmed not to be part of an active TLE selection.”

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Click to play video: 'Crown land sales deteriorating Prairie land: Saskatchewan conservationist'
Crown land sales deteriorating Prairie land: Saskatchewan conservationist

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