Federal Court Finds NCC-Crown MOU Is Not A Determination Of Section 35 Rights

by ahnationtalk on June 14, 202424 Views

June 14, 2024

The Federal Court ruled on June 12 that a Memorandum of Understanding signed by the NunatuKavut Community Council (NCC) and the federal Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations does not establish that the organization has Indigenous rights as defined by Section 35 of the Canadian Constitution.

Justice Cecily Strickland made the determination in a ruling on a judicial review brought forward by the Innu Nation regarding the 2019 MOU between NCC and the Crown to discuss a Recognition of Indigenous Rights and Self-Determination process.

The Innu Nation challenged the MOU saying it had the potential to impact their land claim negotiations which have been underway since 1978. The Nunatsiavut Government, which represents rights-holding Inuit in Labrador, was an intervenor in the case.

Justice Strickland ruled that the MOU does not create or alter any rights or obligations of NCC, Canada or any indigenous peoples, and is not legally binding. “The MOU does not recognize the NCC, does not afford NCC any rights and does not deprive the Applicant, the Intervener or any other group of any rights.”

She noted that NCC has made three unsuccessful claims under Canada’s Comprehensive Land Claims Policy since 1991, and the MOU was not intended to decide or confirm Section 35 rights. “Nothing in the MOU recognizes NCC as an “aboriginal peoples of Canada” or is a determination that NCC holds Section 35 rights.”

The Inuit Nunangat Policy is a federal policy that is premised on the recognition of Inuit inherent rights and treaty rights. It defines Inuit as being enrolled in an Inuit Nunangat Land Claim which includes the Inuvialuit Final Agreement, the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement, the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement, and the Labrador Inuit Land Claims Agreement.

In a resolution in September 2023, those organizations, which comprise the voting members of the ITK Board of Directors, determined that the federal government’s unclear response to NCC’s advocacy has created confusion and undermined efforts to improve the social and economic conditions of Inuit both within and outside Inuit Nunangat.

The ITK Board resolved that NCC is not an Inuit collective, its members are not capable of holding Section 35 rights, and they are not recognized as being Inuit by the members of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami.

Furthermore, Inuit have negotiated Constitutionally protected modern treaties with the federal government which determine collective and individual identity of Inuit. Inuit reject unilateral and colonial approaches by non-Inuit governments to attempt to define or redefine Inuit collectives or Inuit identity.

NT6

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