Clarification and validation of Indigenous rights and treaty as asserted by the Supreme Court of Canada in Delgamuukw, 1997.
Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC) – AMC will be intervening at the Supreme Court of Canada…to argue that First Nation constitutional orders are distinct but equal to Euro-Canadian laws. The Court will address the most fundamental constitutional question of our time – the means of addressing climate change. The AMC will propose an analysis, which must recognize the existence of First Nations constitutional orders. The AMC cautions against the incorporation of First Nations laws within the existing Euro-Canadian federalism analysis to address the constitutional question. Instead, the AMC proposes a return to the relationship as it was originally intended by Treaties – one between equal nations with distinct legal traditions. There is confusion on the ground, and as a result Canada has witnessed protests, blockades, and police actions as First Nations, land protectors and corporate interests battle over control of natural resources and development.
On the surface, the case is about the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act, the federal government’s carbon tax, and whether it intrudes on provincial jurisdiction. The Act was dealt a blow on Monday, February 24, 2020 when the Court of Appeal of Alberta ruled that the carbon tax is unconstitutional, on the grounds that it intrudes on provincial jurisdiction.
However, neither the federal nor provincial governments acknowledge the existence of First Nations laws. The AMC, represented by the Public Interest Law Centre (PILC), will argue that the Supreme Court has a unique opportunity to address a much deeper reality. AMC Grand Chief Arlen Dumas said, “First Nations people and laws have always been here. These laws continue to govern First Nations’ relationships with the Creator, Mother Earth and all living beings. They are grounded in mutual respect and underpin the Treaty relationship. Our First Nations laws constitute Canada’s first constitutional order, alongside the French Civil Law and English Common Law. This is a constitutional debate that must acknowledge our nation-to-nation relationships and help frame reconciliation.” The AMC contends that this court case exposes an outdated, inaccurate and destructive narrative about Canada. First Nations laws have been recognized by the Supreme Court, however recent lower court decisions have sent contradictory signals about the relationship between Euro-Canadian laws and First Nations laws. This lack of clarity has led to a patchwork of inconsistent decisions.