Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador Upholds the Duty to Consult

by NationTalk on December 13, 20071253 Views

Labrador Metis Nation News
Thursday, 13 Dec 2007

On Wednesday, December 12, 2007 the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador upheld an earlier decision made by Justice Robert Fowler. On July 19, 2006 after reviewing the extensive affidavit and documentary evidence before him and after a five day hearing including viva voce evidence and argument, the Honourable Justice Robert A. Fowler concluded that:The Provincial Crown (Government of Newfoundland and Labrador) had and continues to have an ongoing duty to engage in meaningful consultation with the Labrador Metis people as represented by the Labrador Metis Nation. Consequently the failure of the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador to engage in meaningful consultation with the Labrador Metis people as represented by the Labrador Metis Nation is not justified.

“We know that every court in the land would uphold this decision. We know we are Inuit descendents and there is a duty to be consulted and respected by the Crown,” states LMN President Chris Montague.

“This decision offers a great opportunity for everyone to reflect on what is important here and we are hoping to cross over a bridge that leads to dialogue and cooperation with the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador,” says Chris Montague.

The Supreme Court of Appeal concluded that:

[50] The respondents have established a prima facie connection with pre-contact Inuit culture and a continuing involvement with the traditional Inuit lifestyle. They have presented sufficient evidence to establish that any aboriginal rights upheld will include subsistence hunting and fishing.

[51] Any unsatisfactory consequences for the parties, from the Court’s inability to provide greater guidance, may be alleviated by their implementing a process for reasonable ongoing dialogue.

“There are numerous hunting charges pending on the members of our nation and for a dialogue to be productive with the Province it’s going to be important we are not litigating each other. We are unsure if the Province realizes it, but recent charges to our elders are the most hurtful actions taken to date by the Province and warrant some soul searching,” emphasizes Montague.

On December 5, 2007 the Minister of Justice Jerome Kennedy, the Minister of Labrador Affairs John Hickey and the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs Patty Pottle met with aboriginal elders from Labrador. It was two days later when Metis elder Ken Mesher received his summons to appear before the Provincial Court.

Chris Montague explains, “Uncle Ken went to the meetings with a positive message and he felt there was a rapport until he received his summons. We are willing to give the benefit of the doubt but this situation with our hunters and elders needs to be addressed.”

Media Contact:
Chris Montague
President
Labrador Metis Nation

Telephone: 709-896-0592
Cellular: 709-897-5548
Web Site: http://www.labradormetis.ca

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