OTTAWA, ON--(Marketwired - May 14, 2014) - Metis Nation of Ontario (MNO) President Gary Lipinski and other Métis leaders will be in attendance at the upcoming appeal on Treaty 3 harvesting rights set to be heard by the Supreme Court of Canada tomorrow in Ottawa.
The appeal is called Keewatin et al. v. Ontario and has been advanced by Grassy Narrows First Nation for over five years. The case is about the Treaty 3 harvesting clause and Canada's ongoing role in ensuring these harvesting rights are protected when lands are "taken up" in Treaty 3 territory. At trial, the Ontario Court of Justice held that Ontario did not have the constitutional authority to "take up" lands in the Keewatin area of Treaty 3 because of the promise in the Treaty that only Canada could grant these authorizations. The Ontario Court of Appeal overturned the lower court decision and Grassy Narrows was granted leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada.
Earlier this year, MNO was granted intervener status in the Keewatin appeal by the Supreme Court of Canada and has filed written arguments in support of Grassy Narrow appeal. At the hearing, MNO will be represented by Métis lawyer Jason Madden.
MNO is intervening because Treaty 3 is unique in the history of Crown-Métis relations as the only historic Treaty negotiated with First Nations where Métis -- as a distinct Aboriginal group -- collectively adhered to a treaty. Today, the MNO represents the descendants of the Halfbreeds of "Rainy Lake and Rainy River" that are the beneficiaries of Treaty 3 harvesting rights.
MNO is also intervening because this appeal will have broader implications with respect to Canada's ongoing jurisdiction and responsibility to protect Treaty and Aboriginal rights under s. 91(24) of the Constitution Act, 1867. This constitutional provision grants the federal government exclusive legislative responsibility for "Indians, and Lands reserved for Indians." Notably, in the Daniels v. Canada case released last month, the Federal Court of Appeal declared that Métis are included as "Indians" in section 91(24).
Theresa Stenlund, the MNO Regional Councillor for the Treaty 3 area said, "Our community wants to ensure that the federal Government is held to account for the treaty promises it made to both First Nations and the Métis in Northwestern Ontario. The honour of the Crown demands it."
MNO President Gary Lipinski said, "The advancement of Métis rights is fundamental to the MNO's agenda. We are intervening to support Treaty 3 First Nations, but to also ensure that Métis rights and interests in northwestern Ontario and throughout the province are considered by the highest court in the land."
"We believe this case will be important in advancing reconciliation between the Crown and Aboriginal peoples and ensuring Canada is held accountable in fulfilling the solemn promises it has made to Aboriginal peoples, including, Métis," concluded Lipinski.