The Supreme Court of Canada has dismissed a request to appeal a decision denying P.E.I.’s Mi’kmaq people a judicial review of the sale of the Crown land connected to the Mill River resort.
As usual, the court gave no reasons for its decisions on whether to grant or dismiss a leave to appeal application.
The case came out of the January 2017 sale by the P.E.I. government of the Mill River Resort, which includes about 130 hectares of land, to a private operator.
The two Mi’kmaq bands on P.E.I., Lennox Island First Nation and Abegweit First Nation, objected to the sale of the Crown land, arguing the province had a duty to consult with the Island’s Indigenous people.
The province countered that it had consulted in a meaningful way.
In a news release, Mi’kmaq chiefs expressed their disappointment with the decision, but said they would continue to fight for their consultation rights. They said the sale of Crown land is a particular concern on P.E.I., because so much of the Island is privately owned. They said they have been acutely deprived of land on P.E.I.
“To be meaningfully consulted on the sale of Crown lands, or in any matter that involves Aboriginal rights, is key to a successful relationship between the government and the Mi’kmaq,” said Abegweit First Nation Chief Junior Gould.
Lennox Island Chief Darlene Bernard said Premier Dennis King’s government, which was elected a year ago, has committed to a different relationship with the Mi’kmaq.
“We are hopeful that this commitment will help us build mutual trust and a co-operative spirit, and thereby avoid future litigation,” said Bernard.
The Mi’kmaq filed for a judicial review a month after the sale.
In June of 2018, the Supreme Court of Prince Edward Island dismissed the First Nations’ application for a judicial review of the sale. That decision was upheld by the provincial Court of Appeal in November.
The Lennox Island and Abegweit chiefs decided to take the case to the Supreme Court of Canada in January.
More from CBC P.E.I.