First Nations not consulted on Kapyong Barracks sale, court rules
'It's been a difficult journey,' says Dennis Meeches, chief of Long Plain First Nation
In a decision on Friday, the federal Court of Appeal said it agrees that the federal government failed to adequately consult with Treaty 1 First Nations over the sale of Kapyong Barracks, the old military base in Winnipeg that has sat empty since 2004.
A group of four Manitoba First Nations have outstanding treaty land entitlement claims where Kapyong exist, which is surplus Crown land, and want to repurpose the 64-hectare site on Kenaston Boulevard. There has been interest in turning the land into an urban reserve.
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Norman Boudreau, the lawyer representing two of the four First Nations, said the Court of Appeal ruling is precedent setting.
"Everybody is excited, this is great news for everybody," said Boudreau. "Finally, a clear cut victory for the First Nations and everyone is happy."
Dennis Meeches, the Chief of Long Plain First Nation, said his position has always been to work toward a negotiated settlement, but he has always believed all first nations involved had every right to secure the land.
"Treaty 1 common reserve: That's been our position. We're hoping to be able to achieve that," said Meeches.
"The primary reason to work collectively; there's a lot of work that needs to be done. We believe that strength in Treaty 1 would go a long way in strengthening Canada."
The federal government ended up selling the former Canadian Forces base without first communicating with the First Nations, a court ruled in 2012. The case has been tangled up in the courts since then.
Meeches said he hopes the new Court of Appeal ruling paves the way for future negotiations.
"It's been a difficult journey, I can say, but I think we're drawing to a close and all can reflect back on it," said Meeches. "My hope is that it won't go to the Supreme Court."
The federal government can still appeal the decision to the Supreme Court of Canada.