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Kapyong ruling favours First Nations

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OTTAWA -- A second federal judge has decided in favour of four Treaty One First Nations in Manitoba in a dispute over the Kapyong Barracks land.

Justice Roger T. Hughes this morning became the second judge to order a halt to the sale of the Kapyong Barracks land until four Treaty One First Nations could be properly consulted -- Peguis, Long Plain, Roseau River and Sandy Bay. He said based on treaty one, signed in 1871, and treaty land entitlement agreements signed by some, but not all of the bands, those four have "an arguable but by no means certain" claim to the lands at Kapyong Barracks.

Sandy Bay and Sagkeeng had their claims dismissed by Hughes because neither filed a memorandum in the case and the judge could not find a basis to substantiate a claim made by either of them.

Brokenhead First Nation withdrew from the case in October, so was no longer part of the application.

In the 1871 Treaty One, the seven bands relinquished claim to land in exchange for land entitlements equaling 160 acres per family of five. Canada did not make good on its side of that bargain to all the bands involved, hence land claims which exist for the bands today.

The decision is somewhat different from that made in 2009 by a different judge, who ruled Ottawa had failed in its duty to consult with two of the bands - Peguis and Brokenhead.

Ottawa appealed that decision and a federal court ruled the lower court judge had not given good enough legal reasons for the decision and sent the entire case back to the lower court to be argued again. That hearing was held last week and the decision released this morning.

The land at Kenaston Boulevard and Grant Avenue, has been in limbo since 2004 when the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry Unit shipped out to CFB Shilo.

In November 2007, the Treasury Board, then run by president and Manitoba senior cabinet minister Vic Toews, ordered the land sold for $8.6 million to the Canada Lands Company for development. The federal Crown corporation planned to turn the land into an innovative mix of housing, shops and parks.

But in January 2008 the seven Treaty One First Nations filed a court case to halt the sale, arguing they had claims to the land through treaty land entitlement.

The court case halted any work on the property, and as it dragged on Canada Lands even closed its Winnipeg office fearing it would be years before it might get the land, if ever.

Ottawa has spent more than $10 million maintaining the land and the barracks since they were abandoned. That means the government has spent more maintaining the abandoned land than the land is worth The land in question involves 160 acres at Kenaston and Grant on which the operational barracks sit.

The 62 acres nearby on which military housing sits is not part of this claim, as the government has not yet decided whether to sell that land. Many of the homes are still occupied by military families and other tenants.

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Updated on Friday, December 14, 2012 at 8:54 AM CST: Updates with full writethru and judge's decision

9:17 AM: changes photo

9:58 AM: updates with full writethru, more details

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