AMC Fully Supports All Efforts of Treaty 9 First Nations to Protect Their Treaty and Traditional Territories, Including Legal Challenge of Canada – Metis Self-Government Agreement
May 8, 2023
Treaty One Territory, Manitoba
Treaty One Territory – The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC) supports the Wabun Tribal Council of Brunswick House First Nation, Chapleau Ojibwe First Nation, Flying Post First Nation, Matachewan First Nation, Mattagami First Nation and Beaverhouse First Nation in protecting their traditional territories.
The First Nations have filed an application for judicial review in the Federal Court of Canada based on Minister Miller’s decision to enter into the Métis Government Recognition and Self-Government Implementation Agreement with the Métis Nation of Ontario. The First Nations contend that the Agreement was entered into without any consultation and threatens the constitutionally protected rights of the First Nations in the Wabun Tribal Council, who have exercised their rights in the traditional territories claimed by the Métis Nation of Ontario since time immemorial.
Expressing her concerns, Grand Chief Cathy Merrick stated, “It is concerning that the federal government has recognized the “Historic Métis Homeland” as an area encompassing the traditional territories of many First Nations, including the entirety of what is now the province of Manitoba. The Métis claim to territory or homeland is relatively new, benefiting from the concept of the Doctrine of Discovery, and lacks the historical significance that First Nations share with the land. There are many First Nations in Manitoba who have not received their full entitlement to reserve lands over 100 years after Treaty was entered into. Canada’s agreement with the Métis Nation of Ontario sets a dangerous precedent for First Nations in Manitoba. In addition to being contrary to international law principles and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, it is contrary to Canada’s own United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act. It now further complicates matters as Canada will have further grounds to continue to argue that it must consult with the Métis prior to finalizing their Treaty obligations to First Nations in Manitoba. This is troubling, considering that the First Nations were not consulted prior to this Agreement being entered into, and the same can happen for AMC member First Nations.”
The Notice of Application further alleges that the Minister erred in law by incorrectly conflating Métis citizens with mixed-race individuals who self-identify as Métis. The issue of indigenous identity fraud, particularly in relation to self-declaration and self-identification policies, is one that continues to hamper progress for First Nations in Manitoba.
Grand Chief Merrick concluded, “The issue of individuals self-identifying as having First Nations or indigenous heritage continues to negatively affect our First Nations citizens. People who engage in indigenous identity fraud take employment opportunities, programs, services, and financial benefits away from the systemically disadvantaged population that these opportunities were designed for. Recognition of indigenous self-identification negatively affects First Nations’ right to self-government and the ability to determine their citizenship as protected by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples because it allows non-indigenous people to receive the benefits of being a First Nations citizen without proper recognition by the rights-holding collective. The AMC not only wholeheartedly supports Treaty 9 First Nations in their endeavours but also pledges to scrutinize the ongoing actions of the federal government and explore all available options, including court actions, to challenge any measures that may impinge upon the rights and interests of AMC First Nations.”
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Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs
The AMC was formed in 1988 by the Chiefs in Manitoba to advocate on issues that commonly affect First Nations in Manitoba. AMC is an authorized representative of 62 of the 63 First Nations in Manitoba with a total of more than 151,000 First Nation citizens in the province, accounting for approximately 12 percent of the provincial population. AMC represents a diversity of Anishinaabe (Ojibway), Nehetho / Ininew (Cree), Anishininew (Ojibwe-Cree), Denesuline (Dene) and Dakota Oyate (Dakota) people.