BC’s Working Group on Sec.35 Métis Rights held a very valuable and beneficial meeting with Tom Isaac on July 22nd in Vancouver discussing all aspects of Sec.35 Métis Rights in British Columbia and MNBC’s proposal of effectively addressing Métis Rights and Benefits in the province.
Mr. Isaac was appointed by federal Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development (AANDC) the Hon. Bernard Valcourt in early June as the Minister’s Special Representative (MSR) to meet with Métis organizations and others to map out a process for dialogue on Sec. 35 Métis rights. Mr. Isaac is a lawyer specializing in Aboriginal law. Part of his mandate also includes engaging with the Manitoba Métis Federation on the 2013 Supreme Court of Canada decision pertaining to the Métis lands issue in Manitoba.
The meeting between MNBC’s Working Group and Mr. Isaac lasted more than three (3) hours and covered many important issues establishing Métis rights in BC including the history of Métis in British Columbia, especially prior to 1858, Métis governance in BC, and such key Métis rights as wildlife harvesting and sharing, fishing, trapping, gathering, domestic timber harvest, migratory bird harvest and the mobility of rights. The Duty to Consult and Self-Government were also important subjects of discussion. Mr. Isaac was very interested in all the prepared material supporting MNBC’s position on Métis rights, including MNBC’s proposal of effectively addressing Métis rights and benefits in British Columbia.
President Bruce Dumont who chaired MNBC’s Working Group described the meeting as “excellent and without precedent” and was pleased with the quality of discussion that took place. He said, “Mr. Isaac is very knowledgeable about all of the various Court decisions involving Aboriginal people generally and Métis people specifically, and clearly understands the distinctiveness of Métis people in this country and the importance of Sec.35 to us.”
In addition to President Dumont, the Working Group was comprised of Regional Director Lissa Smith (MNBC’s representative on the Métis Right Panel), Rob Humpherville (BCMANR Regional One Captain and BCMANR Co-Chair, Chris Gall (MNBC’s Director of Natural Resources) and Dale Drown (MNBC’s Chief Executive Officer).
Mr. Isaac will be working on his report for the balance of the summer and this fall, and must table it with the federal Minister by December 18, 2015.