(Winnipeg, MB) – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) Manitoba Regional Chief Kevin Hart said today that the Supreme Court of Canada decision in the Mikisew Cree First Nation case does not mean Canada can ignore or deny First Nations rights or the duty to consult.
“The Supreme Court may have ruled that the federal government does not have a duty to consult before tabling legislation, but it does not mean First Nations will stop asserting and defending their rights, their peoples and their traditional territories,” said Regional Chief Hart. “The Crown still has a duty to consult on any activities that affect our lands, our waters or our rights and the Crown will be held to account. We are serving notice that we fully expect the Honour of the Crown to be upheld and that we will challenge any attempts to override our rights.”
The judgment in the case of Chief Steve Courtoreille on behalf of himself and the members of the Mikisew Cree First Nation v. Governor General in Council et al., SCC 37441 was released on October 11. The case deals with Canada’s duty to consult with First Nations before introducing legislation. It arose in 2012 when the government introduced two omnibus bills that amended Canada’s environmental protection and regulatory legislative scheme. In 2013, Mikisew Cree First Nation, under Chief Steve Courtoreille, filed a judicial review application on the basis that Canada did not consult the Mikisew Cree First Nation on the changes, which had potential to impact their Treaty rights. Canada has an established duty to consult and accommodate when Aboriginal rights and Treaties are affected.
Regional Chief Hart stated: “This decision is regrettable and a missed opportunity to rightfully engage with First Nations as partners in the legislative process. I commend the efforts of the Mikisew Cree First Nation in taking a stand for all First Nations and for First Nations Treaty rights.”
The AFN is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada. Follow AFN on Twitter @AFN_Updates.
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