Sunday marked the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Manitoba Framework Agreement (MFA) over land claims in the treaty – a day to celebrate but also an important reminder of unfinished business.
The Treaty Land Entitlement Committee (TLEC) held an event on Sunday afternoon to mark the occasion. It brought together the three parties that originally signed the document: the Crown, the Manitoba government, and Indigenous leaders.
The MFA aimed to address and resolve outstanding land claims by TLEC members First Nations.
According to the committee, the original intention was to provide 1.1 million acres of additional reserve land. More than 25 years later, Canada has reserved only about half for the 15 First Nations who have joined the MFA.
“Canada basically broke the deal and if they broke it it’s like committing adultery so we had to bring in our arbitrator to have it rule in our favor and Canada should fix the issue and they haven’t done it yet. said Chief Nelson Genaille of Sapotaweyak Cree Nation and TLEC President
Genaille said the two municipal lots his community received have been converted into a casino and gas station to help the First Nation with much-needed funding.
At Sunday’s event, First Nation leaders like Genaille called on federal and provincial governments to give up more land and follow the MFA.
“Premier Doer, you know, said we can do it in ten years. Trudeau said ten years ago, we’ll make it in ten years. It’s already 25 years. Will there be a new prime minister, a new prime minister? to see how it finishes?”
Prime Minister Heather Stefanson was at the event and spoke about the work the province has accomplished since the State Department signed it and the work that still needs to be done.
“I also recognize that TLE is more than transferring land to create reserves. It’s about reconciliation, building relationships and creating important social and economic opportunities,” Stefanson said.
A representative of the federal government was absent from the event.
Organizers say the Minister for Relations between the Crown and Indigenous Peoples of Canada sent a minute-long video message but felt it should not be broadcast.
CTV News reached out to Crown-Indigenous Relations Canada. It said it was working on an explanation, but one was not yet available.
With 25 years behind the agreement, indigenous leaders are now looking to the future.
“If there’s a request or a promise that needs to be asked, you know, that’s done,” Genaille said here, we’re not going anywhere.”