WINNIPEG – It’s being called a great victory in First Nations communities.
“This is a result of many, many years of a fight by the First Nations to have their right recognized,” said Norman Boudreau, the lawyer representing the First Nations group.
A long awaited federal court of appeal ruling came down late Friday, saying the federal government did fail to properly consult several Manitoba First Nations before the sale of Kapyong Barracks.
“The judgment of the federal court of appeal really sets out as its never done before,” said Boudreau. “What Canada must do is to consult with First Nation when their rights are at stake.”
Since 2004, the land along Kenaston Boulevard that was once the Kapyong military base has been vacant. In 2007, Treaty 1 bands asked the federal government if they could claim it. It has been tied up in court ever since. Now First Nations leaders are eager to finally start development, even though it could still be years before a shovel hits the ground.
“I would like to see some businesses, and something that will benefit our people and the city of Winnipeg residents,” said Alfred Hayden, chief of Roseau First Nation.
Back in March, an open discussion was held to educate the public about urban reserves. Leaders of the forum were happy with the turnout and say it’s an indication of a changing Winnipeg.
“Yes there is still relationship building to do but I feel positive that will happen,” said Leah Gazan, president of the Social Planning Council of Winnipeg.
The next step is likely consultations, but it is not known whether the federal government will appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada.