SCO renews call for immediate end to auction of crown lands
February 2, 2023
ANISHINAABE AND DAKOTA TERRITORY, MB — The Southern Chiefs’ Organization (SCO) is renewing calls demanding the provincial government put an immediate stop to an upcoming auction of Crown lands.
“One year ago, we were talking about this same issue. When Heather Stefanson became Premier, she assured me things were going to change and we would enter into a relationship built on collaboration and trust,” said Grand Chief Jerry Daniels. “When I learned that more Crown lands are to be auctioned off, without first consulting us, it really has me questioning this Premier’s authenticity and commitment to working with First Nations people.”
In January 2023, the province revealed they will once again hold online auctions to sell agricultural Crown land leases and permits. The auctions are scheduled to take place next week.
“Let me be very clear: First Nations with Treaty and Entitlement are required to receive first option to acquire public land that come up for sale,” added Grand Chief Daniels. “We have every right to have input into what was stolen from us.”
Numerous Crown land parcels are being made available to rent to farmers and ranchers for agricultural activities like haying, grazing, or growing crops. In most cases, these lands are prime hunting, ceremonial, and natural medicine sources for First Nations. Bidding on these traditional territories is scheduled to begin on February 6.
First Nations were promised land more than a century ago when Treaties were signed with the British Crown between 1871 and 1910. Treaties are legal obligations. The province signed the Manitoba Framework Agreement on Treaty Land Entitlement in 1997. This agreement calls for more than a million acres of land to be transferred. This quota has not been met.
Our provincial Treaty partner is also falling short of its own legislation when it comes to land designation.
In 2016, the province passed Bill 18, The Path to Reconciliation Act. This law acknowledges the traditional lands and territories of Indigenous peoples, the harms that have been caused through colonial policies and practices, and the need to move towards reconciliation. SCO firmly believes the auctioning of Crown lands without consultation violates the intent and wording of that Act.
“I call on everyone involved in this process, including Garton’s Auction Services, the province’s real estate services branch, and ultimately the Premier, to push the pause button until we have proper input into how these lands are to be used,” concluded Grand Chief Daniels. “This is about honouring Treaties, existing legal agreements, and ultimately about building on Ms. Stefanson’s words from last year. I encourage her to reflect on the serious political ramifications of breaking yet another promise with the first peoples of this land.”
The Southern Chiefs’ Organization represents 34 First Nations and more than 83,000 citizens in what is now called southern Manitoba. SCO is an independent political organization that protects, preserves, promotes, and enhances First Nations peoples’ inherent rights, languages, customs, and traditions through the application and implementation of the spirit and intent of the Treaty-making process.
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