Re­serve land claim back to Square 1

Lethbridge Herald - - ODDS & ENDS - Bill Grav­e­land THE CANA­DIAN PRESS — CAL­GARY

A fed­eral judge has sent a land dis­pute be­tween two fam­i­lies on Canada’s largest First Na­tion back to Square 1.

Jus­tice Michael Man­son did not over­turn a de­ci­sion that trans­ferred land from former Blood Tribe chief Harley Frank to an­other fam­ily.

But in a 29-page rul­ing, Man­son noted the process used by the Blood Tribe, which in­cluded a re­jec­tion from an ap­peal board, wasn’t fair to the Frank fam­ily.

“The ap­pli­cants were de­nied pro­ce­dural fair­ness,” wrote Man­son.

“Given the de­ci­sion that the ap­peal tri­bunal’s de­ci­sion was pro­ce­du­rally un­fair, it is not nec­es­sary to con­sider whether the de­ci­sion was rea­son­able or not. It would be wrong to go on to spec­u­late what the out­come would oth­er­wise have been.”

The dis­pute on the Blood re­serve, home to 12,500 peo­ple, in­volves 600 hectares of prime agri­cul­tural land al­lo­cated to the Frank fam­ily in 1960.

Al­though band mem­bers can’t own prop­erty out­right, they can have it al­lo­cated to them with the ap­proval of the chief and coun­cil.

Frank’s fa­ther staked a claim nearly 60 years ago and had two years to make im­prove­ments on the un­de­vel­oped prop­erty near the St. Mary Reser­voir.

Ear­lier this year, Frank was in­formed the band’s land dis­pute panel had awarded all but two hectares of the prop­erty to a fam­ily with ad­ja­cent land. Frank said the de­ci­sion was based on ev­i­dence of a hand-drawn map and was ap­proved by the chief and coun­cil.

His re­quest for an ap­peal was re­jected.

Man­son or­dered the ap­peal panel to re­con­sider the case and or­dered the chief and coun­cil send it back to the orig­i­nal land panel for a new hear­ing.

He said ide­ally no one who took part in the orig­i­nal hear­ing would be part of the new one. But he also said he couldn’t or­der that be­cause he has to re­spect the Blood Tribe’s self-gov­er­nance.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.