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Metis people take Canada to court over Manitoba lands

[JURIST] After waiting twenty-five years to get their day in court, lawyers for the Metis [Metis Nation website; press release] people of Manitoba delivered opening arguments Monday in a case that will determine whether 1.4 million acres of land - including a portion of Winnipeg, Manitoba's capital city - was illegally taken from them by the Canadian government [official website]. At issue in the case is Section 31 and Section 32 of the Manitoba Act of 1870 [text] which allegedly committed the land to the Metis, a people descended from the marriages of Europeans and Native Americans [Metis National Council backgrounder]. Approximately 100,000 Metis live in Manitoba today. The Metis claim the 40 enactments passed in the one-hundred and thirty-six years since the 1870 act - which effectively nullified their exclusive rights to the land - were all unconstitutional.

According to Manitoba Métis Federation [official website] President David Chartrand [official profile], the Metis seek only a declarative judgment that the enactments are invalid and will not seek to evict current residents. Read Chartrand's statement on the court case, which he says will take three to six months. Reuters has more.

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