The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs shocked by today’s ruling by the Supreme Court of Canada

Photo of Supreme Court of Canada

October 11, 2018

Treaty One Territory, Manitoba



Treaty One Territory, MBGrand Chief Arlen Dumas of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC) is responding to news that the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision in the Mikisew case held that Parliament does not have a duty to consult with Indigenous people before introducing laws that may affect constitutionally-protected Aboriginal and Treaty rights and title.

“We are absolutely shocked by this decision today,” stated Grand Chief Dumas. “Shortly after his election, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau publicly stated that no relationship is more important to the government and to Canada than the one with Indigenous peoples. He looked into the eyes of our people and said his government is committed to a renewed nation-to-nation relationship between Canada and Indigenous peoples, one based on the recognition of rights, respect, trust, co-operation, and partnership.”

Grand Chief Dumas further explained: “The federal government’s legal arguments in this case, which helped persuade the Court to abandon decades of jurisprudence defining the government’s legal duty to consult with First Nations, flies in face of Trudeau’s promises of rights recognition.”

Aboriginal and Treaty rights and title are protected in section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982. In the last 30 years, the courts have laid out the parameters of the Crown’s legal duty to consult with First Nations prior to making any decisions or enforcing any laws which may impact First Nation rights. This legal duty applies to both federal and provincial governments and is the central constitutional principle which gives effect to section 35 rights protection.

The AMC will continue to fight for the inherent, Aboriginal and Treaty rights and title of First Nations in Manitoba. According to the Supreme Court of Canada, the government is still obligated to act honourably and maintain the “honour of the Crown” when drafting laws that could affect First Nations citizens. The AMC will continue to advocate for the rights of our First Nations when it comes to any new laws that may impact them and support them to continue to exercise their sovereign jurisdiction by assisting their member First Nations to create their own laws that supercede federal and provincial laws.

Grand Chief Dumas also said: “I want to express my gratitude to the people of Mikisew Cree First Nation in Alberta for taking this step and fighting to protect our constitutionally protected Treaty rights over the last several years.”