Manitoba

Manitoba should remove deadline for pursuing Indigenous land claims in new bill: AMC

The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs says the province has missed a chance to fix a law that it says restricts Indigenous people from addressing historical injustices. 

Government's actions disingenuous when reconciliation should be a priority, Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs says

Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs Grand Chief Arlen Dumas says the government is falling short on its duty to consult with First Nations people as it continues to push a limitation period for Indigenous land claims. (CBC)

The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs says the province should have used a new bill to fix a law that it says restricts Indigenous people from addressing historical injustices. 

If passed, Bill 51 will continue to demand any claims based on Aboriginal and treaty rights affirmed by the constitution must be commenced in court within 30 years of the act or omission taking place.

AMC Grand Chief Arlen Dumas said no First Nations groups were consulted before the province tabled the new bill — which maintains the same limitation period as the previous legislation — on Monday. 

He called for the removal of limitations when Indigenous people are trying to correct historical wrongs. 

"It's totally disingenuous to conversations that we're trying to have in regards to reconciliation, wanting to try and correct past and historical injustices," he said.

Falling short on reconciliation: AMC

Dumas said the lack of consultation is an affront to the government's commitment to reconciliation with First Nations peoples.

The AMC said other provinces, such as Saskatchewan and Ontario, do not have limitation periods for Indigenous land claims.

Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont called on the government to withdraw the bill and remove limitations entirely from these land claims. 

The government's bill also sets a single limitation period for other civil claims of two years, which begins to run from the day the claim is discovered. Justice Minister Cameron Friesen said he wanted virtually all legal actions to have the same two-year limitation period.

"We have been slow in Manitoba to make changes to this where almost every other jurisdiction has sought to harmonize its rules better," Friesen told reporters.

Justice Minister Cameron Friesen said the province is trying to harmonize limitation periods for the majority of legal actions. (John Woods/The Canadian Press)

NDP justice critic Nahanni Fontaine questioned the value of making some limitation periods stricter.

"What if I only found out 2½ years after, and I'm no longer allowed to [pursue legal action]?" she said. "I think it's quite problematic."

Fontaine argued the bill would make it harder for Manitobans to seek justice from corporations and governments. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ian Froese

Reporter

Ian Froese is a reporter with CBC Manitoba. He has previously worked for newspapers in Brandon and Steinbach. Story idea? Email: ian.froese@cbc.ca.

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