MCFN says it will not delay Six Nations litigation if granted intervenor status

The Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation said it is not seeking to cross-claim or counter-claim in Six Nations’ massive land litigation case against the Crown but rather, it wants to tell its own story about the land in question.

Nuri Frame, a lawyer representing MCFN, said his client applied to intervene in the case in October 2022 because Six Nations’ representation of the history of the land in question is at odds with MCFN’s interpretation.

Six Nations filed a suit against the Crown in 1995 seeking a resolution to its loss of land and monies in relation to the almost one-million-acre Haldimand Tract in Southern Ontario.

Frame said MCFN has constitutional interests of “absolutely vital importance” to his clients, as well as a “deep and abiding interest in the subject matter.”

MCFN has claims to land and water within the Haldimand Tract and has a vested interest in the outcome of the case, said Frame.

Lawyers for Six Nations said they were concerned including MCFN at the table could prolong the proceedings for a decade a more.

Frame, on Friday at a hearing on its motion to intervene, tried to assure the court his clients would not do that.

“We obviously do not seek to expand the issues. We will not bring counter claims and don’t want to obstruct Six Nations from seeking a resolution. My client is very committed to not unduly delay (the case).”

Furthermore, Frame assured the court that MCFN would have little to nothing to say on the accounting of Six Nations’ trust funds, which Six Nations says was mismanaged by the federal government.

Max Shapiro, one of Six Nations’ lawyers, said MCFN is a late intervenor and already unprepared. The case is expected to go to trial sometime after January 2024, after already being delayed close to thirty years.

“MCFN is a late intervenor. Usually late intervenors show up and say we’re ready to go. They’re not ready yet. How long will it take them to put in materials?”

Frame estimated his clients would have its materials ready in about six months.

But Shapiro said he was concerned that adding MCFN would protract the litigation and add years to the case, even going as far as arguing that it looks like MCFN is trying to re-frame the case in an entirely different lens to focus on the history of MCFN’s land claims instead of Six Nations’.

Shapiro asked Justice Jasmine Akbarali to deny its application as an intervenor.

MCFN said the story of MCFN history—and of MCFN’s traditional territory—that is told by Six Nations and its experts “fundamentally deviates from history as MCFN understands it.”

MCFN argues that MCFN would suffer “profound prejudice” if the narrative advanced by Six Nations and its experts were to be adopted by the Court without MCFN ever being afforded an opportunity to tell its own story, in its own words, from its own perspective.

MCFN said it supports Six Nations’ action against the Crown but wants to tell its own story.

But according to testimony from MCFN Chief Stacey LaForme, MCFN is “the sole Indigenous people with treaties within and respecting” these lands, not Six Nations.

Also at issue is MCFN denying that the Haldimand Proclamation is a treaty.

The Haldimand Proclamation asserts that Six Nations was given six miles on either side of the Grand River to occupy in 1784 while MCFN had already been occupying and using some of that well before that.

MCFN says it believes Six Nations’ litigation minimizes or eliminates MCFN interests in the lands in question.

MCFN said it is concerned that the case could adversely affect its rights if it doesn’t have a seat at the table. It is also seeking costs for its participation in the litigation and “any other relief” MCFN may ask for, which wasn’t specified.

The hearings wrapped up last Friday.

Justice Akbarali is expected to make a decision within four to six weeks.

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