Manitoba’s Métis, Ottawa sign deal to end 146-year-old land dispute
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This article was published 15/11/2016 (2327 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
OTTAWA — There is an end in sight to a 146-year-old land claims dispute between Canada and Manitoba’s Métis nation.
Manitoba Métis Federation president David Chartrand and Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett signed an agreement in Ottawa Tuesday that outlines how the two will negotiate an end to the dispute that began in 1870 when 7,000 Métis children did not properly receive the 1.4 million acres of land promised when Manitoba became a province.
“It is a historical day,” Chartrand said with a smile after the ceremony.
The negotiations arose out of a 2013 Supreme Court decision that ruled Canada had failed its fiduciary responsibility to Manitoba’s Métis under the Manitoba Act of 1870. The act said each Métis child was to receive just under 240 acres of land.
The reality, however, was that lengthy delays meant most of the best land went to other settlers by the time the government acted, and errors resulted in some children never receiving anything.
The agreement outlines the issues that need to be negotiated, as well as some timelines to make some decisions. Those issues include the amount of cash compensation for land not provided, as well as parcels of land that will be set aside for the Métis. Neither side would estimate a dollar figure, but it will be significant.
The money will be set into a trust fund for Métis children to pay for things such as university education and economic development.
Chartrand said he hopes to conclude the negotiations before the next federal election and believes that is possible.
“The way this thing is going is phenomenal,” he said. “The speed of it is just moving so fast. I want to get it while the kettle is hot. I don’t want the agenda to change in this country.”
Bennett didn’t commit to a specific time frame, but said the government has the will to make it happen.
“It means so much that it means so much to them,” she said.