Metis Lands in Manitoba

Metis Lands in Manitoba

Metis Lands in Manitoba

Metis Lands in Manitoba

Excerpt

The telephone rang in my office one afternoon in June 1986. It was a call from the Department of Justice, asking if I would fly to Ottawa to discuss the land claims case being brought by the Manitoba Metis Federation against Canada and Manitoba. a statement of claim in this case was filed with the Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench in 1981 by the Manitoba Metis Federation and the Native Council of Canada, which at the time represented both Metis and non-status Indians across Canada. the Metis resorted to litigation because their talks with the governments of Canada and Manitoba to achieve a land base and self-government had not produced results. Their statement of claim asked for a declaratory judgment that the federal and provincial governments had deprived their ancestors of the land rights guaranteed by ss. 31 and 32 of the Manitoba Act.

Not much happened in the lawsuit until the fall of 1986, when the Metis retained the services of Tom Berger, a former member of Parliament, leader of the British Columbia New Democratic party, and judge of the British Columbia Supreme Court. Berger had a long connection with native rights. He had been counsel for the Nishga Indians in the Calder case and had conducted the Mackenzie Valley pipeline inquiry for the federal government. His well-known book Fragile Freedoms contained a short history of the Metis and called for an aboriginal rights settlement with them. Declaring that “in this case we will be putting the conventional view of Canadian history on trial,” Berger pressed for a trial date . . .

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