Monday, August 7, 2023
FOR IMMEDIATE DISTRIBUTION
WABUN TRIBAL COUNCIL GOES TO COURT TO DEFEND FIRST NATION RIGHTS FROM FALSE CLAIMS OF MÉTIS RIGHTS
Timmins, ON — On Tuesday and Wednesday, the Wabun Tribal Council will appear in Federal Court in Toronto to defend its right to challenge Canada’s unfounded recognition of alleged “Métis” communities in Wabun First Nations’ territory.
In March 2023, the Wabun Tribal Council brought a judicial review of Canada’s decision to officially recognize all the “communities” represented by the Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) as s. 35 rights-holding entities.
Canada’s February 2023 Agreement with MNO flouts the Supreme Court of Canada and attempts to give s. 35 rights to “MNO Communities” that never existed historically and aren’t actually Métis.
Wabun Tribal Council and other First Nations repeatedly raised concerns to Canada about the factual and legal basis for MNO’s claims, only for Canada to ignore and to repeatedly attempt to prevent any public (or private) scrutiny of MNO’s claims. MNO misappropriates First Nations ancestors and history to retroactively transform a modern group of individuals with some mixed First Nation ancestry into a so-called “Métis” nation.
Canada wants to silence First Nations by supporting a motion to strike out Wabun Tribal Council’s court case entirely. MNO and Canada argue that courts shouldn’t be allowed to review the Canada’s decision, and that there should be no consideration of the evidence brought forward by First Nations showing MNO’s claims are deeply flawed.
What Canada and MNO don’t want the public to know
Academic studies show MNO’s claims are deeply flawed
Two separate studies by academic experts, in reports prepared for the Wabun Tribal Council and the Robinson Huron Waawiindamaagewin, demonstrate that MNO’s claim is based primarily on self-identification and misappropriating First Nation ancestors by claiming that descendants of people identified as “halfbreed” by colonial officials (even once, and incorrectly) are automatically “Métis”. Many of the “verified Métis” ancestors MNO relies on were in fact leaders of their First Nations in the Ontario region, as are their descendants.
Nationwide coalition rejects MNO’s claims
First Nations across Ontario and across Canada have rallied to demand Canada stop negotiating with MNO because there are no Métis rights in Ontario. Academics too have called for a reconsideration given the “serious questions about the legitimacy, membership, and jurisdiction of the MNO.”
Métis Groups are deeply concerned about MNO
MNO and Canada have tried to silence First Nation by claiming lateral violence, when the truth is that Métis groups have deep concerns about MNO. The Manitoba Métis Federation has warned of MNO opening the door to a “floodgate” of non-Métis and of MNO creating “fictional Métis communities and territories”.
The Métis National Council was so concerned about MNO’s claims that MNO was suspended from the MNC in 2020 and MNC passed a resolution demanding an independent expert investigation into MNO’s claims of “new” communities (including those in the territory of Wabun Tribal Council). The Métis Nation of Saskatchewan and the Métis Nation of BC wrote to MNO in July 2023 again raising concerns about MNO’s claims.
MNO’s goal is access and entitlement to First Nation lands
Wabun Tribal Council raised the alarm with Canada when MNO demanded permanent access to lands Matachewan was in the process of having transferred to reserve as part of an outstanding treaty land entitlement claim. Despite claims that Canada’s recognition of MNO isn’t about land, MNO has been demanding lands in First Nation territories for years.
Creating illegitimate s. 35 groups in Wabun Tribal Council territory that claim Wabun lands will absolutely harm the Wabun First Nations – as it will harm all First Nations in Ontario.
Canada attempting to silence First Nations
At every turn, Canada and MNO have attempted to prevent any scrutiny of the legal and factual basis for Canada’s recognition. The motion to strike brought by MNO and supported by Canada is an attempt to deny Wabun Tribal Council and First Nations their day in court.
Wabun Tribal Council supports legitimate Indigenous nations that meet the relevant legal standard and that historically had a distinct culture, language and government. However, self-determination without any standard and without recognizing First Nations prior occupation undermines all legitimate First Nation, Inuit, and Métis rights.
For more information please go to: https://fnrightsatrisk.ca/.
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Media contact: Jason Batise, Executive Director, Wabun Tribal Council: firstname.lastname@example.org
About the Wabun Tribal Council
Wabun Tribal Council serves six First Nations (Brunswick House FN, Chapleau Ojibwe FN, Flying Post FN, Matachewan FN, Mattagami FN, and Beaverhouse FN). Wabun Tribal Council is a non-profit community-driven organization that is committed to providing quality services for its member First Nations through innovative and culturally appropriate programming.
Wabun receives direction from and is accountable to its Board of Directors, made up of the Chiefs of each of the member First Nations. All senior personnel report to the Executive Director, who oversees the operation of the Tribal Council.
Wabun is headquartered at Mattagami First Nation, and its operational office is located in Timmins.