POLITICS

Metis Nation incumbent says Ottawa must address Metis land claims

09/04/2012 10:56 EDT | Updated 11/04/2012 05:12 EST
SASKATOON - Just days before the Metis Nation of Saskatchewan election, incumbent president Robert Doucette is calling on the federal government to deal with Metis land claims.

Doucette says in the 1940s, the province of Saskatchewan set aside about a dozen townships of land for the exclusive use of the Metis in Green Lake.

He says the order in council was never repealed and is technically still on the books.

He suggests that as the federal government moves to divest itself of 720,000 hectares of Crown land in the province, it would be appropriate to begin consultations with the Metis people.

“Prior to and since the creation of the province of Saskatchewan, Metis people have sought a land base where they can raise their families, live with dignity and be part of and participate in the economy of the province of Saskatchewan," said Doucette.

Ottawa has announced that over the next five years, it plans to sell off 60 federal pastures. Most of it would automatically revert to provincial control, but provincial officials have said they don't want it.

Doucette said the Metis people can show a direct relationship to the land involved, noting many Metis cemeteries, Red River cart trails and settlement sites are located in the 60 pastures.

“Metis citizens should be consulted, their dream of a land base should be accommodated and both levels of government should consider the Metis in the discussions of local ownership and local control of some of those pastures."

Five candidates are challenging Doucette in Saturday's vote —Wayne McKenzie, Mavis Taylor, Raymond Laliberte, Bryan Lee and Maureen Belanger.