P.E.I. Mi'kmaq file court challenge over Mill River land sale
'This is not a step that we wanted to take'
Representatives of the Indigenous Mi'kmaq on P.E.I. filed an application for a judicial review Wednesday of the provincial government's sale of Crown land in Mill River.
Last month, the province announced the sale of the Mill River resort, golf course, fun park and campground to Don MacDougall, who announced plans to renovate and upgrade the facilities.
The Mi'kmaq are basing their claims on a 2014 decision by the Supreme Court of Canada.
The Tsilhqot'in First Nation decision settled a number of key legal issues, including how to determine aboriginal title and how provincial laws apply to those lands.
"This is not a step that we wanted to take," said Abegweit First Nation Chief Brian Francis in a news release.
"The Province refused to deal with us in a cooperative spirit and secretly moved ahead with the deal despite our repeated objections."
'Lack of respect'
The news release says the province proceeded without addressing any title issues asserted by the Mi'kmaq, and that the Mill River area is traditionally and culturally significant to the Mi'kmaq people.
"While we are extremely disappointed at the lack of respect shown to us, we believe that this will be a significant day for the Mi'kmaq," said Lennox Island Chief Matilda Ramjattan.
"It is our hope that future generations will look back at this day with pride and empowerment."
Mi'kmaq First Nations chiefs on P.E.I. first suggested shortly after the sale was announced that they might try to block it.
At the time the province responded that it had engaged and consulted with the Mi'kmaq Confederacy and fulfilled its duty to consult on the conveyance of the land.
On Wednesday, a statement from the province added that officials are in the process of reviewing the application.
"We will be responding formally to the application through the required legal process," it said.
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