First Nations group granted access to Kapyong Barracks for ceremony

A group of First Nations people who have camped out at the edge of the former Kapyong Barracks land is being allowed on the property to perform a ceremony.

Kapyong Barracks campout

6 years ago
Duration 1:22
A group of First Nations have been camped out at the edge of the former Kapyong Barracks land, hoping to get inside to perform a ceremony.

A First Nations group is being allowed inside the former Kapyong Barracks to perform a ceremony.

The Department of National Defence let the group into the former military base on Tuesday after the group set up camp, demanding access.

Kylo Prince from Long Plain First Nation said Col. Andy Cook helped the group gain access to the land.

"Not in my wildest dreams would I ever have thought that we could deal with the military and have them stand with us. Reconciliation," Prince said.

The group set up camp on Morpeth Boulevard, just off Taylor Avenue, outside the chain-link fence around Kapyong — an empty military base and long-disputed tract of Crown land.

DND has granted the group access to the barracks for five days until they have completed their ceremonies, after which time the department will lock the gates.

A group of people are camped out on Morpeth Boulevard, in front of the former Kapyong Barracks land. (Kenza Kaghat/CBC)

Four Manitoba First Nations have been trying to get the 64-hectare property, nestled between the affluent Tuxedo and River Heights neighbourhoods, for more than a decade, in hopes of converting it into an urban reserve.

Prince said this week's ceremony has nothing to do with plans to create the urban reserve on the site.

Kapyong Barracks became vacant in 2004 when the 2nd Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, relocated to CFB Shilo near Brandon, Man.

DND declared the property surplus. It has essentially been tied up in legal disputes since then and deteriorating.

In 2007, the federal Treasury Board decided to sell the site to the Canada Lands Co., a Crown corporation that was to oversee the land's redevelopment and resale.

That plan stalled when a group of Treaty 1 First Nations, which included Long Plain, Peguis, Roseau River and Swan Lake, said they had a right to the land under outstanding Treaty Land Entitlement claims and expressed interest in creating an urban reserve.

In September 2009, Justice Douglas Campbell declared the transfer invalid, saying the federal government didn't do enough consultation with First Nations groups who have outstanding Treaty Land Entitlement claims.

The government appealed that decision but lost again in December 2012.

The federal government took the case to the Federal Court of Appeal but in a decision issued in August 2015, the court agreed with the earlier rulings.

Under the decision, the government has a duty to consult with First Nations on the future of the land.