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Digest of the Week - “Métis children granted 1.4 million acres”

Manitoba Métis Federation Inc. v. Canada (Attorney General)
2013 CarswellMan 61
Supreme Court of Canada
Judgment: March 8, 2013

Aboriginal law | Constitutional issues | General principles

Honour of Crown — Manitoba Métis Federation Inc. (MMF) and individual Métis ("plaintiffs") asserted that Métis people of Manitoba lost land base they were to have received under Manitoba Act upon Manitoba's entry into Canadian confederation and brought action for declaratory relief — Action was dismissed — Trial judge held, inter alia, that ss. 31 and 32 of Act did not give rise to duty based on honour of Crown — Appeal by plaintiffs was dismissed — Plaintiffs appealed — Appeal allowed in part — As solemn constitutional obligation to Métis people of Manitoba aimed at reconciling their Aboriginal interests with sovereignty, obligation in s. 31 to Métis people of Manitoba, Aboriginal people, to provide Métis children with allotments of land engaged honour of Crown — Crown failed to act with diligence in pursuit of fulfilment of promise and obligation to Métis children remained largely unfulfilled — Delay of over 10 years in making promised allotments of land substantially defeated purpose of s. 31 — Due to underestimation of number of eligible children, 993 Métis were left out of 1.4 million-acre allotment and received scrip that was redeemable for land or could be sold for cash on open market — Delayed issuance of scrip redeemable for significantly less land than was provided to other recipients further demonstrated persistent pattern of inattention inconsistent with honour of Crown — Since grant was intended to benefit individual children rather than establish Métis land base, random distribution of land was consistent with purpose of s. 31 obligation — Crown did not act honourably in implementing s. 31 — Honour of Crown was not engaged by s. 32 — Plaintiffs were entitled to declaration that Canada failed to implement land grant provision in s. 31 as required by honour of Crown.
 
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