Court of Appeal Rejects Saskatchewan’s “Misconceived” Legal Attack Against Métis Nation–Saskatchewan
March 22, 2023 – Métis Nation–Saskatchewan (MN–S) welcomes the decision announced by the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal, which soundly rejected the provincial government’s inappropriate attempt to prevent MN–S from advancing issues of Métis title and Métis commercial harvesting rights in its litigation against the Province.
The matter arose in the fall of 2021, when MN–S asked the courts to review the Province’s decision to issue permits to NexGen Energy Ltd. in relation to its Rook 1 Project. MN–S argued the Province failed to meet its constitutional obligation to consult and accommodate the Métis, including their refusal to discuss Métis land claims and commercial harvesting rights.
Saskatchewan filed technical challenges, claiming that MN–S should not be permitted to raise matters of Métis land claims and commercial harvesting rights in the course of the litigation, as its refusal to consult was consistent with its formal consultation policy (which is also being challenged by MN–S).
The Court’s decision affirms MN–S’s right to hold the Province accountable for its refusal to consult, and provides support to MN–S’s position that the Province’s consultation policy is unconstitutional.
MN–S Vice President Michelle LeClair said, “While we are pleased with the Court’s decision, we would have preferred to collaborate rather than pursue legal avenues. Our role is to ensure Métis rights are honoured and protected, but the Government of Saskatchewan has chosen to systematically ignore its constitutional duty to consult with our Nation, making legal action necessary. We have been clear, as recently as last week, that the Government of Saskatchewan has an obligation to consult MN–S citizens rather than unilaterally imposing its will on our people. The future of Saskatchewan is dependent on a collaborative relationship with Métis citizens and the longer this government puts up artificial, exclusive barriers to engagement and recognition, the more negative impact on the entire province.”
Despite repeated attempts to work with the provincial government and ensure Métis rights are respected, the Premier and his government refused to listen or meet their constitutional obligations to consult and accommodate Métis. Monday’s decision by the Court of Appeal will help support MN–S in its efforts to compel the Province to meet its constitutional obligations, and to encourage proponents to engage with the Métis.
The Court of Appeal’s ruling is validation of MN–S’s work to protect Métis rights and rightfully advances the Métis Nation–Saskatchewan’s Self-Government Recognition and Implementation Agreement with Canada. MN–S welcomes respectful engagement and will continue to work equitably with all proponents of land-based projects that impact Métis citizens.
About Métis Nation–Saskatchewan:
Métis Nation–Saskatchewan (MN–S) is built on a foundation of Métis identity, culture, values and language. Empowered by the Métis citizens of Saskatchewan, MN–S works to advance Métis rights and strengthen capacity. MN–S represents the political, socioeconomic, cultural and educational interests of more than 80,000 Métis in the province through an elected representative system at local, regional and provincial levels. Social Media Links: @MNSask, @metisnationsask
For media inquiries:
Rena Montgomerie – MN–S Senior Communications Officer firstname.lastname@example.org or 306-250-1092