Manitoba Metis, Liberal government sign memo of understanding over land rights | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Manitoba Metis, Liberal government sign memo of understanding over land rights

May 27, 2016 - 8:34 PM

WINNIPEG - A potential settlement expected to reach billions of dollars could be presented to Manitoba’s Metis as early as September after the Liberal government signalled it is taking steps to fulfil a 146-year-old disagreement over land.

On Friday, Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett signed a memorandum of understanding with the Manitoba Metis Federation.

The document outlines the government’s intention to finally honour a promise made under Sir John A. Macdonald to distribute 5,565 square kilometres of land, including what later became modern-day Winnipeg, to the Metis.

Bennett said the Liberal government is committed to ending the status quo and "renewing Canada’s relationship with the Metis nation."

The milestone comes nearly three years after the Supreme Court of Canada ruled 6-2 that the federal government failed to appropriately carry out its promise made in 1870.

The 2013 ruling lent legal heft to the possibility of land-claim negotiations.

Metis leaders celebrated the historic step toward finally resolving the longstanding dispute.

“We waited 146 years for this," said federation president David Chartrand. "The future is going to change for generations to come, and we are no longer going to be sitting on the sidelines,."

The disagreement stems from a promise made by Sir John A. Macdonald's government in 1870 to set aside land for 7,000 Metis children from the Red River Settlement.

The Metis have argued that it took more than a decade for the government to begin distributing the 5,565 square kilometres of farmland and about 1,000 Metis children never received any of the promised plots.

In many cases, the land was randomly handed out by lottery and displaced the recipients from their ancestral land.

The deal was part of the Manitoba Act of 1870, which Canada’s first government crafted in attempts to end the Red River Rebellion led by Metis forefather Louis Riel. The act also helped Manitoba become a Canadian province.

Another landmark ruling for the Metis came in April when the Supreme unanimously ruled that Metis and non-status aboriginals are “Indians” under the Constitution. The decision opened the door for an estimated 600,000 Metis and non-status Aboriginals to gain access to federal First Nations programs previously denied to them.

(CTV Winnipeg)

News from © The Canadian Press, 2016
The Canadian Press

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