Friday, September 19, 2014
Text Size

Big boost for fights, leaders say

Ruling upholds need for firms to get consent: chief

By: Carol Sanders

Winnipeg Free Press

First Nations leaders in Manitoba fighting for their fair share of the land hailed Thursday's Supreme Court of Canada decision as a victory.

"This landmark decision only bolsters what we've been saying," said Chief Arlen Dumas of Mathias Colomb Cree Nation.

In 2013, the First Nation issued stop-work orders to HudBay Minerals Inc. to stop the mining on band territory at Lalor Lake and Reed Lake and blockaded the road to the Lalor site. The First Nation, formerly known as Pukatawagan, issued a public declaration to all resource companies that its consent is required for any activity in its territory. On Canada Day, it issued a moratorium against all resource extraction in its territory to both the federal and provincial governments.

"We're going to reissue stop-work orders and issue a declaration to HudBay and everyone else who's operating illegally in our territory and remind them they are in violation of a Supreme Court decision and legalities need to be adhered to," Dumas said by phone from the First Nation. "We're going to continue to put pressure on them."

HudBay later won a court injunction to stop aboriginal protesters from blocking access to two of its remote mines.

The high court's decision could have a huge impact in Manitoba for the Dakota and Sioux, who don't have treaties and for Treaty 1, 2 and 3 First Nations, says a University of Manitoba law professor with 10 years' experience in aboriginal law.

"This is a really big day," said Aimé Craft. "Their treaties are not surrenders of land but agreements to share," she said. "They don't have a blanket extinguishment clause."

First Nations such as Peguis, whose occupancy dates back prior to sovereignty and whose ability to decide on the use of resources within the area they occupied was affected, may now have a say.

"The Supreme Court set out a very clear direction and test," she said. If the occupancy dates back prior to sovereignty and is site-specific -- not a settlement or a village that was occupied 24/7 but land occupied by a semi-nomadic people for hunting, fishing and other forms of harvesting -- they may have a vested title in the land.

That could give First Nations a larger slice of the economic pie.

"The immediate thought is industry and commercial activity," said Craft. "Forestry is huge in Manitoba, the lakes are used for commercial fishing -- there's mining and natural-resources extraction," said Craft.

But proving occupancy and attachment to the land that dates so far back is difficult and expensive, said Craft. The courts like historical, archival records, but prior to European contact there's just oral history and archeological evidence. In land-claim battles, a slew of experts from both sides will debate that evidence, said the lawyer-turned-professor who's represented First Nations going up against the Crown in court.

She hopes the federal government will settle more cases as a result of Thursday's decision.

"Do taxpayers want their tax money to be invested in fighting claims that could be negotiated successfully? Now there is more pressure on government to negotiate."

Thursday's decision should signal to the government that negotiating settlements with First Nations is the right thing to do, said Dumas.

"For whatever reason, they choose to be adversarial," he said. "We want to work collaboratively and move forward with what we're doing. HudBay and the like choose to be adversarial and not uphold the laws of the land.

"They claim they want to work in good faith but how can you speak to somebody when they're suing you?"

Dumas said he and the First Nation are being sued by HudBay "for exercising our constitutionally protected rights."

The company issued this statement: "HudBay has always sought constructive relationships with the First Nations in northern Manitoba. We work continually at strengthening those connections and will always continue to do so."

Whatever Trevor

Dis is Trevor.

Education & Training

Blast from the past: FP archive

When is Consultation, Consultation?

Ovide Mercredi

National Chief – AFN

During a Treaty Roundtable meeting of the Alberta Chiefs, I took note of a federal government document outlining their strategy to define and ultimately impose their own form of self-government. Read more...

Letting go of residential schools

by Gilbert Oskaboose, Nov 1993 First Perspective

There is a lot of "unfinished business" in Indian Country. Garbage that we as a people have never really dealt with. Chief among them is the whole issue of those infamous residential schools and their impact on people. Read more...


obidiah picture

ANALYSIS - Bill Gallagher

gallagher picture

Under the Northern Sky by Xavier Kataquapit

Under the Northern Sky by Xavier Kataquapit


First Nations Cultural Interpreter PM – 02 Riding Mountain National Park Seasonal Indeterminate

(May to October) From $54,543 to $58,764

Closing Sept. 19, 2014

Read More

Regional Media Officer– Temp (Until Nov 2015) –F/T Position

Office of the Leader of the Official Opposition / NDP Research Office

Location:131 Queen Street, Suite 10-02, Ottawa, ON


Communicate regularly with regional media outlets (community newspapers, radio stations, student media, ethnic media, etc.) to propose ideas for interviews and opinion content Read more...

Canadian Chamber of Commerce Aboriginal Workforce Report

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce released a report that highlights initiatives to improve the workforce participation of Aboriginal peoples. 

Opportunity Found: Improving the Participation of Aboriginal Peoples in Canada’s Workforce (December 2013)  

click image to download report

Tue Sep 23 @ 3:00PM - 04:15PM
FNHMA National Conference 2014
Sun Oct 05 @ 9:00AM - 05:00PM
INIHKD & Manitoba NEAHR Conference 2014


September 2014
31 1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 30 1 2 3 4

Current Video

RIP Percy Tuesday


Thanks to Althea Guiboche for allowing The First Perspective to share her video taken at the Manitowapow book launch at McNally Robinson. 

Percey sings Freddy Fender's "Wasted Days and Wasted Nights" and people join in to harmonize. 

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO): The Washington Redskins