FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
AMC SUPPORTS ST THERESA POINT FIRST NATION AND BERENS RIVER FIRST NATION TO CHALLENGE MANITOBA’S ATTEMPT TO PREVENT ACCESS TO THEIR TRADITIONAL TERRITORIES
January 27, 2017 – Treaty No. 1 Territory – The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs along with St. Theresa Point First Nation and Berens River First Nation sent a clear message to the Manitoba Conservation Department on protecting Treaty Rights. AMC’s Executive Council of Chiefs have passed a motion to support St. Theresa Point and Berens River First Nation to challenge the Province of Manitoba to cease all construction of the access road.
On January 16, 2017, the Province of Manitoba sent St. Theresa Point First Nation and Berens Rivers First Nation a notice of summary enforcement procedure. The Province’s Conservation Department claims the First Nations are constructing a road on Crown land without authorization.
The road at issue connects the two communities which is used by community members in the exercise of their inherent and treaty right to hunting, trapping, and gathering which has been in existence since the 1940s. The notice sought requests the First Nations to cease all construction activity and remove all equipment from Crown land by January 20, 2017.
Chief David McDougall of St. Theresa Point First Nation stated, “ Accessing our Traditional Territory is vital to our existence. The Crown promised we would continue our way of life and to have access to our lands for hunting without disruption. The Crown in right of the Province of Manitoba is in total breach of this Treaty right by giving us the purported eviction notice. The Premier is deliberately contravening and ignoring his own law that exempts us to freely use our lands”
“Our communities have constructed access roads in our Traditional Territories for many years using dog sleigh, skidoos and graders. It’s a right we have supported by the Supreme Court of Canada.” Said, Chief Hartley Everett of Berens River First Nation, “It has become a challenge for our people to access our Traditional lands with the imposition of provincial laws. The previous Governments have respected the customary practice, however the Pallister Government is now taking steps to eliminate this practice.”
Grand Chief Nepinak concluded “Section 27(7) states: “Except in the exercise of a right”. This means that any person who uses and occupies Crown lands without authorization may be guilty of an offence EXCEPT in the exercise of a right, in this case our Aboriginal and Treaty Rights. We will support our First Nations and will continue to fight to protect our ability to exercise our inherent and treaty right without interference. ”
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