Statement to the Community from the PEI Mi’kmaq Leadership/the Abegweit and Lennox Island Councils On the Mill River Caseby Tammy MacDonald
As many of you are aware, our appeal of the “Mill River” duty to consult case was in the Prince Edward Island Court of Appeal last week.
On Tuesday our lawyers made their presentation to support our position that the Province breached its duty to meaningfully consult the Mi’kmaq before the sale of the Mill River property. The Mi’kmaq have never ceded title to Prince Edward Island, and for many years we have made our claim to this island known to Government. As a result, government has a duty to consult us if they are going to do anything that might negatively impact our rights, in this case our Aboriginal title rights.
On Wednesday the lawyers for the Province made their arguments. We do not agree with the arguments they made, or the positions they presented, but the process allows all parties to present their arguments and interpretations. It was difficult to listen to legal arguments which we dispute and which do not reflect what actually occurred, but we must respect the court process. On Thursday our lawyers had an opportunity to reply and the hearing ended on Thursday afternoon.
The Appeal Court consists of three judges and they will now take away what they read and what they heard and come to a decision. It will take several months and we will provide an update as soon as that happens.
We do not feel that the Crown acted honourably when they sold the Mill River property in 2017, without appropriate consultation or accommodation, and it was important that we took a stand. We hope that we will not face these issues with the new government in Prince Edward Island, but we will continue to fight for the protection and implementation of our rights.